Thursday, February 10, 2011

No Movement

The Tea Party folks have this funny notion that they are riding the wave of some kind of “movement” that will change the country forever. Via Greg Sargent:

Here’s another perfect example of this. “Tea Party Review,” the first national magazine for Tea Partyers, is making its debut this week, and one of its founders explained the idea driving it by comparing the Tea Party to the most important movements in American history:

“People are weary of the distorted version of the Tea Party movement that we see in most of the media,” said Katrina Pierson, a member of the Dallas Tea Party and the “national grassroots director” for the new magazine.

“Throughout American history, successful movements — abolitionists, women’s suffragists, the civil rights movement, the conservative movement, et cetera — all had their own print publications.”

I know every group thinks they’re going to change the world, just as every garage band thinks they’re going to be the Beatles or at least Toad the Wet Sprocket. But calling yourself a “movement” doesn’t make it so. In the first place, a movement has to stand for something and have a clear goal in mind. Abolitionists were for ending slavery; suffragettes were for women getting the right to vote; the civil rights marchers were for equal rights for all citizens. So far the Tea Party people haven’t articulated a clear goal of anything they’re for, and they can’t even agree on the things they’re campaigning against.

A movement also has a core of leadership; someone who can articulate the goals and philosophies of the group. Not only do the Tea Partiers not have that, they’re saying that’s a feature, not a bug: “We don’t need a leader; we’re better off just shouting.” And if their idea of a leader is a former half-term governor with more ambition to make money than actually learn what she’s talking about, then there’s not much hope of anyone outside of the group taking them seriously.

The closest resemblance the Tea Party bears to a “movement” is that it looks and smells like the results of an enema.