Though I have shared this in a past Alert, it bears repeating for the benefit of people confused by what has transpired in our Special Election for Congressional District NY-26. Pay particular attention to numbers #1, 3 & 6 — noting for #1, contrary to what an irate tireless minority continues to regurgitate, TEANewYork and all its affiliated groups WERE NOT co-opted by the GOP, simply because we endorsed the same candidate. So just get that thought out of your head, Naysayer.
The Ten Greatest Dangers to America’s Tea Party Movement
by Ray McBerry
The Tea Party Movement has had a marked impact upon the political scene here in these united States over the last two years, and the potential for even greater success yet exists. However, the forces arrayed against those traditional Americans who believe that we should return to the founding principles that made America great are many; and dangers to the new burgeoning movement also exist. Some of the successes of the Tea Party Movement include the election of a handful of key officials at the national level and many others at the state and local level. Also of importance is the recognition by many politicians that the tea partiers have the ability to perform the watchdog role of “swing vote” in numerous closely-contested races around the country; and the jury is still out on whether the Tea Party will be able to actually hold the candidates that they have supported to the line on their campaign commitments to restore the Republic.
The real heart and soul of the Tea Party Movement has been the average American who has gotten back involved in the political process in an active way, in some cases for the first time ever. For far too long, most honest, God-fearing Americans have avoided the political fray because politics is by nature tainted with those things that most respectable people find repulsive, including the mudslinging and outright lies. Then there is the fact that the unseen “powers that be” have so destroyed the fabric and financial hardiness of most families that many spend so many hours “at work” each week that they have little in the way of time or energy to offer something that they have viewed in the past as an activity where they can have marginal impact anyway. Too many others have fallen for the perception created for them by the enemy that surely they must be the “only” one who still feels as they do — that surely there aren’t enough Americans who still believe that the old ways are the best ways when it comes to our founding principles. In spite of all these reasons to not get involved, though, traditional Americans by the thousands are getting up off the couch and out of the recliner to get out and literally create a political impact out of thin air.
There have been some key individuals who have played invaluable roles in the early stages of prompting and organizing the Tea Party Movement, most notably Congressman Ron Paul. Although there are many tea partiers who still do not know of Ron Paul and others who know of him but do not think that he is the best choice of a presidential candidate for the Movement, the truth is that his creation of the national Campaign for Liberty during his past presidential bid in the Republican primary is what jumpstarted American traditionalists to activism and became the impetus for the larger Tea Party Movement. Without Ron Paul and Campaign for Liberty, it is doubtful that the Movement would have ever taken off with the success that it has enjoyed.
But there are a number of imminent dangers facing America’s relatively new Tea Party Movement. Its enemies are many and come from numerous seemingly different sectors; but the truth is that the only entity which can bring about the destruction of the Tea Party’s effectiveness is the Tea Party, itself. History reveals all too well that most productive movements such as this are eventually watered down or fall apart from within. Destruction from within can arise from over-inflated egos, failure on the part of the average member to understand the real issues and their sources, or even the undermining work of agent provocateurs. All of these forces are already at work within the Tea Party to some degree or another; and it is not yet apparent whether enough good people involved in the Movement will have sustained vigilance enough to prevent the natural course of these forces from having their way. I submit the following list of immediate dangers in the hope that, having been identified, they might be avoided by America’s Tea Party Movement. The restoration of the Republic — any American republic.
In descending order, culminating with the most likely and most dangerous pitfalls near the end, here is the list:
#10 Leaders concentrating their efforts on building a national organization. One of the greatest strengths of the Tea Party is its emphasis upon the local level. Recruitment, activism, achieving goals, electing constitutional candidates, and swaying public opinion is all done best at the local level; yet almost from the beginning of the Tea Party’s initial success and notoriety, some of the “leadership” of the Movement have expended time and energy making the Tea Party into a national organization (and have tried to get local leaders to spend time and money to do it). Despite the tendency to believe that a “national” organization is inherently more effective and “better,” the effort to create a unified national organization expends many valuable resources building the organization which would otherwise be put to work accomplishing the original goals of the Tea Party.
#9 An emphasis upon national politics. The notion that national politics is more important than local and state politics is both flawed and a creation of the late twentieth century. While it is true that the federal government has bestowed upon itself unconstitutional powers never granted by our Founding Fathers, continuing to emphasize national politics as the remedy will not solve the problem; indeed, it is exactly the ineffective tactic that the enemy would like the Tea Party to adopt. Politics and, by default, politicians in Washington are contrived and controlled by the unseen powers whose only allegiance is to wealth and power; neither principle nor the love of their fellow countrymen are important to them. The establishment in Washington will continue its present course no matter how many constitutionalists are elected to Congress because the system which they have created does not follow the law anyway. The surest means to liberty is to elect local and state officials who will govern according to our founding principles and who will, if necessary, invoke the God-given American rights of nullification and interposition to prevent federal tyranny. It is these local politicians who are more easily within arm’s length and who will be more responsive to Tea Party efforts; for they and their families must still live and shop and worship among us.
#8 Activism without education. As we have experienced in recent days, “change” just for the sake of “change” is no better than our current crisis. Holding rallies, marches, and protests have value, particularly in recruitment of additional patriots; but without an understanding of the goal and the tools to reach it, they will become a replacement for actually affecting real change. In order to restore the constitutional Republic bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers, it is essential that we understand the principles of liberty and the boundaries for civil government established by the Creator and understood from the beginning of our American tradition.
#7 Education without activism. Likewise, there is a danger in Tea Party members becoming educated “sponges,” soaking up vast amounts of knowledge… and then doing nothing with it. There are many educational “think tanks” and organizations already in existence who produce quality materials with the information essential for restoring constitutional republican government in America. If the Tea Party becomes a “study group” and ceases its relentless pursuit of those elected officials who have betrayed their oath or affirmation of office, it will have given up its most significant contribution to the current struggle to restore liberty.
#6 Creation of third parties. While it is true that, at least at the national level, both major political parties have become two sides of the same socialist coin, it is equally true that under the current system, dabbling in the creation of third parties is counter-productive and a sure way to kill a movement. The time and energy required to gain ballot access and sustain viability as a political party, in most states, would literally use up all of the resources available to tea partiers, leaving little for actually campaigning for the candidates of such a party. It also would create a problem in areas where existing political candidates have been cooperative or even friendly to the efforts of the Tea Party but would likely lose their seats if they chose to switch parties. It must be remembered that the goal of the Tea Party Movement is to restore a constitutional Republic — not to get elected or build an organization. If tea partiers work together as an effective voting block, they can easily control the ten percent of votes necessary to sway virtually any election in the direction of their choosing; and it will not take political candidates long to figure this out. By not pledging undying fealty to either of the major parties, the Tea Party is able to jump on whichever “train” is willing to go the right direction and ride it as long as it goes that way and then jump another passing train when that direction changes. In this way, incumbents will no longer feel the uninterrupted luxury that they have in the past. On the other hand, should the Tea Party expend its limited resources to create a third political party, it will eventually go the way of other such parties from the recent and distant past as its success will be inextricably tied to the success of its political party.
#5 Accepting 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. If the Tea Party accepts this nonprofit status (as some local tea party groups have already done), it will find itself chained with the very same restrictions that churches who have made this decision have found. The benefits of IRS approved nonprofit status are few, particularly for organizations such as the tea party who are active and have few if any funds left over at the end of the fiscal year. In the very rare case that an individual’s decision to make a sizeable financial contribution is predicated upon the promise of a tax deduction, the hurdle is usually a simple one solved by making an “advertising” expenditure for the individual’s business or making the contribution through a related nonprofit foundation which then grants funds for certain political causes within IRS guidelines for different kinds of lobbying efforts. The restrictions with which any organization becomes encumbered, however, are enormous — particularly when the organization must be able to single out individual politicians for scorn and ridicule when they veer from their oath of office. If the Tea Party gives up its right to target individual candidates for promotion or scorn, it will have severely watered down its original effectiveness.
#4 A misunderstanding of what is meant by “impartial” or “nonpartisan.” Some Tea Party groups have unwittingly tied their own hands from affecting the outcome of elections by refusing to endorse good, constitutional candidates for fear that it means they are not being “impartial” or “nonpartisan.” If the Tea Party steadfastly holds all candidates to a litmus test of constitutional criteria as a condition for support, there is no need to worry about such criticisms. Candidates should be informed that, no matter their party affiliation (or lack thereof), they will either be targeted for defeat or endorsed by the Tea Party based solely upon their knowledge of and stand upon constitutional principles and the issues of importance to the Tea Party. In so doing, there is no special favour bestowed upon a candidate because of incumbency, party affiliation, race, gender, or any other factor than principle. A refusal of the Tea Party to endorse candidates, particularly in close elections, again waters down its effectiveness and prevents its ability to effectively mobilize a solid voting block.
#3 Selfish personalities building their own little kingdoms. Unlike Ron Paul, there are many individuals who have made their way into the Tea Party because they see it as a way to build their own influence or prestige… or simply because they wish to feel important. Because it is a true grassroots movement, the Tea Party leaders in many locales are people who simply got out and started having meetings, much to their credit; in some instances, though, self-appointment is the sole criteria for these leaders to stay in control of their own meetings and groups even when it is to the disadvantage of the group. Everyone in the Tea Party must be willing to carry their own share of both the burden and the vision but must also be willing to step aside from time to time when someone else comes forward who can advance the banner more effectively in a particular role. Again, tea partiers must remember that the spirit of the Tea Party belongs to no one individual; it is older than these united States and has belonged to every patriotic American since our fathers brought their struggles for liberty here from other continents long ago. Those seeking to build a national Tea Party organization or to bring local tea party organizations together under regional control should be the first suspects of those wishing to avoid this pitfall. When “leaders” at the state, regional, or national level ask (or in some cases, order) local Tea Party leaders to cancel their own meetings, rallies, parades, and plans to support their larger events, the original strength and importance of the Tea Party as a grassroots organization is in jeopardy. Whether in Atlanta, D.C., or any other major city, Tea Party events are no more important there than the ones in your own hometown. Local Tea Party leaders should beware this treachery.
#2 Centralization. The easiest way to destroy any popular uprising is to consolidate all of the groups involved into one organization. The rest is merely a question of what tactic the enemy wishes to employ to disparage, litigate, or assassinate (figuratively or literally) the organization and its leadership out of existence. It’s that simple… ask any totalitarian regime the world over. Centralization makes an organization easy to seduce, malign, and topple. De-centralization, on the other hand, makes a popular movement nearly impossible to destroy. A thousand brush fires are nearly impossible to extinguish; and, even were one to try to do so, another thousand would be begun before the embers of the first vanished into the night. The enemy wishes to centralize the Tea Party’s leadership, funding, choice of candidates, etc. because it is then a “controllable” entity. As it is, the enormous de-centralization of the Tea Party Movement is the enemy’s worst nightmare. It is why the enemy is terrified of the possibilities!
#1 Becoming co-opted by the GOP. Beginning with the big Tea Party rallies in Atlanta and around the country after the election of Barak Obama, Tea Party detractors noted — and rightly so — that the Tea Party seemed more about bashing Obama and Democrats than about restoring constitutional principles. Because we live in an era when most genuine constitutionalists are running for office as big “R” Republicans, there are many within the Tea Party who see the purpose of the Movement as a rubber-stamp to help the GOP get things back on track. This is unfortunate when, in light of history, virtually every Republican administration in the White House has been just as guilty of trampling the Constitution for the last 150 years of American history as have Democrats. It is time that Americans cease voting for candidates merely because of political party affiliation (or lack thereof) and begin, once again, to become knowledgeable of each candidate’s positions on the issues and their understanding of the Constitution. Republicans who do not uphold their oath of office to abide by the Constitution should be ridden out of town on a rail just as quickly as Democrats. There are already enough radio talk show hosts carrying water for the GOP without the Tea Party selling out for anything less than a true constitutional revival… and better to wait for the proof in the pudding before signing over the country!
Ray McBerry is a constitutionalist and former Republican candidate for governor of Georgia. He is the founder of Tenth Amendment Solutions and has been one of the leading spokesmen for state sovereignty across America for more than a decade. Interviews or speaking engagements may be arranged online at www.TenthAmendmentSolutions.com.
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