Will Fear Cripple the Tea Party in Minnesota?July 27, 2010 at 3:04 am | Posted in Political | 6 Comments
Tags: Astroturf, conservative, grassroots, libertarian, Minnesota Tea Party Patriots, nancy pelosi, originalist, politics, Republican Party, revolutionary, tea party, tea party patriots
by Walter Scott Hudson
Nancy Pelosi is not the only person who has tossed around accusations of Republican astroturfing in the Tea Party. The same charge has been lobbed within the movement, by one faction as the ultimate insult against another. Suspicion of Republican co-opting, infiltration, or hijacking leaves some activists clutched in primordial fear.
Fear has a way of seizing people, thwarting initiative, and retarding productive action. Fear has kept the Tea Party from developing to its full potential in Minnesota.
The Tea Party movement is a manifestation of an idea, perhaps best articulated by Thomas Jefferson. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” For the idea to take hold in the culture, it must be channeled through the social and political structures which constitute our society. This is a point which divides the movement in two, separating the originalists from the revolutionaries.
The revolutionary demands the movement avoid structure, saying it can only be “grassroots” if barely organized. The originalist points out that the Constitution – framed to ensure our liberty – is structure. Some form of organization is necessary to move beyond rhetoric to meaningful action. The originalist is thus comfortable caucusing within established parties, working with favorable candidates, building coalitions, even becoming a candidate. The revolutionary is skittish, reluctant to ally, and largely ineffective outside rallying discontent.
Both regard the Tea Party as non-partisan. The revolutionary views this as a pledge to remain wholly unaffiliated with party activity. The originalist views non-partisanship as loyalty to principle above party affiliation. This sets up an irreconcilable difference. In the eyes of the revolutionary, the originalist is a traitor to the cause.
There is nothing wrong with harboring distrust of institutions. As Jefferson told us, a healthy amount of skepticism is essential to the preservation of liberty. However, there is a difference between vigilance and paranoid refusal to accept any ally.
The Tea Party movement is grassroots because its membership, self-proclaimed and policed by no central authority, will not be ruled. It is, at its essence, a vigilance club. That quality makes it wholly immune to the kind of co-opting the revolutionary fears. No self-proclaimed leader is going to tell those affiliated with the movement what to think or who to vote for. So long as the central tenant of the movement is vigilance, such tyranny is plainly impossible. The originalist trusts herself and her fellow patriots to remain self-determined. The revolutionary fears losing the movement, and perhaps their very soul, to a maniacal political establishment.