Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How The Tea Party Was Murdered

It's not often that I rerun pieces I've written in the past, but I think I have good reason. 

Blog Brother Borepatch (one of those of you who got me started) put up a piece this morning auspiciously about how Charles Martel turned back the caliphate but that was really addressing what 2A supporters - especially in Virginia and other states where rights are under attack - need to do in the wake of Monday's rally against Governor Jolson Klanrobe's anti-gun antics (Jolson Klanrobe is the memorable name Kurt Schlicter at used today - paywall warning). 

His punch line, repeated several times, was “Yeah, this is hard and not as much fun as a rally.  Campaigning to win is hard.”

This immediately brought back thoughts of the Tea Party and the perception it was brought down from the inside.  That's only true if you think of the inside as much broader than it was.  The Tea Party was killed by organized political operatives taking advantage of the naivety of Tea Party members.  Here's where I quote from a piece I put up in 2016, How the Tea Party Was Killed Off.  This is a lesson everyone in Virginia, here in Florida, New Hampshire, and anywhere else a rally is being held should keep in mind.  Presented here with some word smithing so it makes sense to me, the author, over 3 years later.

How the Tea Party Was Killed Off

Remember the Tea Party?  They were a political force to be reckoned with in the 2010 elections, but by the 2012 elections had been rendered ineffective.  It turns out it wasn't a natural occurrence and it certainly wasn't that they ran out of things to do.  At least according to this operative, who says he was involved, the tea party was killed off; murdered.   What killed them was the very corruption and cronyism they rose up to fight. 
What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”—which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause.
The tea party actually started to rise during the last years of the W; so it absolutely didn't start as reaction to Obama (the reflexive reaction of the media and the left was, of course, to call the tea party racist).  Instead, the impetus was a reaction to the profligate spending along with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  When Obama swept into office, of course, both of those things continued.  Add in the passing of Obamacare, the only major social program in history to be voted in by one party, along with the lies that went along with it ("if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor", "we have to pass the bill to see what's in it" and more), and anger at Washington exploded.  Tea party rallies started happening.

As Peggy Noonan noted in 2010, the tea party wasn't a wing of the Republican party, as the left wing media thought, so much as a critique of it.  The tea party wasn't a national organization and it originally had little or nothing to do with the idea we saw widely displayed on signs, "Taxed Enough Already".  It was an organic uprising; a leaderless system, or starfish organization as they're called.
Republicans inside the Beltway reacted to the burgeoning Tea Party with glee but uncertainty about how to channel the grass-roots energy usually reserved for the left. A small group of supposedly conservative lawyers and consultants saw something different: dollar signs. The PACs found anger at the Republican Party sells very well. The campaigns they ran would be headlined “Boot John Boehner," or “Drop a Truth Bomb on Kevin McCarthy.” And after Boehner was in fact booted and McCarthy bombed in his bid to succeed him, it was naturally time to “Fire Paul Ryan." The selling is always urgent: “Stop what you’re doing” “This can’t wait.” One active solicitor is the Tea Party Leadership Fund, which received $6.7 million from 2013 to mid-2015, overwhelmingly from small donors. A typical solicitation from the TPLF read: “Your immediate contribution could be the most important financial investment you will make to help return America to greatness.” But, according to an investigation by POLITICO, 87 percent of that “investment” went to overhead; only $910,000 of the $6.7 million raised was used to support political candidates.
I don't think I get many uninformed readers here, so you know that as a rule in life, when someone talks to you with the urgency seen in those examples ("stop what you're doing"... "this can't wait"), you're being hustled.  Walk away or ignore it.  It's like the slimy car salesman who hits you with, "what can I do to get you into this car today?" 

Personally, I've always been suspicious of the Tea Party Patriots and a few other groups that put themselves forward as leaders of the leaderless organization.
Today, the Tea Party movement is dead, and Trump has co-opted the remnants. What was left of the Tea Party split for a while between Trump and, while he was still in the race, Ted Cruz, who was backed by Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. In 2014, the Tea Party Patriots group spent just 10 percent of the $14.4 million it collected actually supporting candidates, with the rest going to consultants and vendors and Martin’s hefty salary of $15,000 per month; in all, she makes an estimated $450,000 a year from her Tea Party-related ventures.
Folks, have you ever heard of Charity Navigator?   No, they don't - can't - have a file on every group that's going to ask you for money, but it's a good place to start.  I Will Never Give a Dime to an organization that puts 10% of what it collects into its stated purpose, like the Tea Party Patriots.  That's even worse than the 13% cited for TPLF in the first quote by POLITICO.  Another good place to go is  You can view a group’s track record in minutes. How much goes toward candidate contributions or so-called independent expenditures, which are supposed to be spent on the candidate (though even those can be thinly veiled solicitations if the "ask" or landing page directs to the PAC and not the candidate).

I'm not going to cite the whole article, you should definitely read the whole thing, but I will leave you with the author's summary of what happened.
But any insurgent movement needs oxygen in the form of victories or other measured progress in order to sustain itself and grow. By sapping the Tea Party’s resources and energy, the PACs thwarted any hope of building the movement. Every dollar swallowed up in PAC overhead or vendor fees was a dollar that did not go to federal Tea Party candidates in crucial primaries or general elections. This allowed the GOP to easily defeat or ignore them (with some rare exceptions). Second, the PACs drained money especially from local Tea Party groups, some of which were actively trying to grow the movement electorally from the ground up, at the school board and city council level. Lacking results five years on, interest in the movement waned—all that was left were the PACs and their lists.
It's really common to hear people complaining about what a corrupt place DC is (you've heard "Den of Criminals") is.   I say that and think that.  I didn't know anything compared to what's in that article.  To grab a quote from Walter Hudson at PJ Media, where I first saw the link to this story:
This is where our attention needs to be. This is the real establishment, not elected leaders in Washington, but a swirling flock of vultures that feed on the corpses of great expectation.

These PACs, that preyed upon Tea Party supporters like a flock of vultures feeding on an injured but still-living prey animal, are the real reason they're gone.


  1. The Tea Party never had a leader. Many claimed to be and there were some influential shot callers. However as you point out, it was coopted and vanished. Shards remained and the core values of Americanism can be found, but they're not in the Tea Party because that was a flash.

    President Trump is not a conservative but as a populist, he was able to stick his finger in the eye of the Republicans in the beltway and shine a spotlight on the rot that has captured the republic. He has appointed conservative judges who follow the rule of law and has worked to bring some balance to the equation. Whether he is another flash or not is dependent on whether the nation follows a constitutional path or whether we go the other way.

  2. The Tea Party started as a purely grassroots libertarian/paleo-conservative movement that within two years time had grown very large. By mid 2009 the GOP had basically co-opted the movement as a vote getting machine for social conservatives. It never started out as a political "AstroTurf" movement to elect politicians to office. It was more of a movement to bring social change by awakening the country to the wholesale infringement of our freedoms and civil liberties that goes on unabated to this day. It was a beautiful thing.

    I'm very concerned that the same thing will happen to the 2A Sanctuary Movement. Will it also become co-opted by that same political machine. If so it is clear they not only lack the will to stop the nonsense, but the demographics (gerrymandering) to even have a shot of being elected in the first place.

  3. The Tea Party was a facet...a partial iteration of the conservative right....a group that has a LOT of different ideologies involved. The
    Right wants freedomb but what freedom is will be defined differently by each subset. Some want 100% of all gun laws eliminated, some want the tax system overhauled/eliminated/changed. Other just want to be left alone. Others will want something else. The Right is a fractured and incoherent group when compared to the communist left which has only ONE ideology and ONE goal. That goal is TO RULE EVERYONE and to wield total, complete unchallenged control over every facet of everybodies life. And they have only ONE RULE......WIN. By any means necessary, legal/illegal, moral/immoral, Constitutional/unconstitutional.... doesn't matter, as long as THEY WIN. The confused and fractured right still at least pays lip service to rules, fairness and honesty even though not every "conservative" politician actually practices what they preach. And because one side is totally 100% ideologically committed to winning at any cost and the other isn't guess who WILL win eventually.

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    2. That is why the right is losing. The right is trying to protect what it values. Therefore it is always on the defensive, it is always responsive. And being responsive, i.e. reactionary is not what the right is comfortable being.

      Instead, a change of perspective is needed. I'll explain it this way;

      if you were to know your house is secure, you would venture forth to hunt the wolf in the forest. You would be on the offensive. You would track that beast, you would find his haunts, where he lives. And you would drive him into the trap you laid for him. And smote him. But it all starts with knowing your house is secure. Or at least acting like it.

      Instead, the right hangs around the house waiting and watching when the beast shall strike. And maybe he doesn't hit at your house every time. Maybe he's striking terror in the barn or chicken coop or the crop. But he's clever. So while you are on your way to the barn to strike at him, he's doubled round, to come into your house.
      You're always (at least) one step behind. You're freaking playing his game!

      So, a change in perspective is required. Go to where he is when he is not on the prowl and feeling comfortable. Because if you do not, that he bides his time because you have not chased him ragged, he will come back with a litter of whelps. And you will be even more at risk.

  4. The tea party has lost it's focus of where it started. Many who joined believed in the constitution whereas politicians think because they're elected they have no restraint to follow it and the party was trying to force them back to it. However politicians changed laws to bypass it. The first being removal; of the recall function by the voters of their state with the excuse they may have to vote for things they don't like for the good of the country. The second was in allowing the so called "representation" to vote it's own pay raises. The first only allowed access to remove them to every 2 to 4 years, for one, instead of immediately. The second allowed them to create their own wealth at our expense. This along with allowing corporations to donate to campaigns created monsters who care less for the little people they support because the big money is elsewhere....and this is BOTH parties. There is so much corruption on both sides of the aisle that the original intent of establishing our government is lost. Yes, we can vote in primaries but we don't have any say in who the party puts up for election so we try to elect the better choice of two bought and paid for losers. Thus we have the out of control trash we have now who have us in debt to the tune of 23+ trillion dollars who continue to waste OUR money on things like the sham impeachment and we have zero say as well as other corrupt enterprises and want to increase taxes at all levels vice living within their means as we have to do. The commies on the left have run amok for 10 years and nothing's been done about it and the right sat, and still sit, on their thumbs until election time before standing up. I have no use for either party at this point because they BOTH are part of the good old boy network that has ruined our government. Trump, on the other hand, IS NOT part of the cabal and is fighting both sides and winning with few even on the right on his side while most on both sides want to continue living in their cushy network which he's disrupting. Term limits for the scum is sorely needed but they'll fight it tooth and nail Or get our recall back, and have them paid by the state they represent as well providing their benefits.

  5. What a good post and I'm with LL, 45's co-opted the TP ethos/energy. Is he a "flash", a vanguard or rearguard? I'd like to think the former and he's delivering results, or at least appearing to.

    Saying that, how many people have been indicted for the failed, keystone kops koup? None. Perhaps the wheels of justice grind slowly,let's hope it's not a case of not at all.

  6. Excellent post - and one all future movements will have to guard against. The Left manages to do avoid the hucksters pretty well . . . .