Fuzzy Slippers recently pondered if, based on false press reports on the status of the “culture wars,” the Tea Party faded away prematurely.

Based on my experiences with a vibrant California Tea Party group, I would argue that the conservative citizen movement transmuted. The form changed, based on the needs and political situation of its many members.

Yet, several people who have been active in the movement agree that the “culture wars” have played a role in the current status of the Tea Party.

Shane Atwell, who writes often about Tea Party-related matters for the San Diego Local Order of Bloggers, makes an interesting connection between social conservatism and the “fading” Tea Party.

I think a lot of the fire left the Tea Party when it got absorbed by the conventional conflict between lefties and conservatives on social issues. It started out as being about limited government (abolishing the federal reserve, getting the government out of housing, reducing taxes, reducing regulations, abolishing Obamacare) and morphed into being about maintaining or expanding government (border fences and marriage restrictions). The leftist media focused on these last and might have known that it would help diffuse the Tea Party.

We should have agreed from the beginning to disagree about border, abortion and marriage issues. In fact we should have left the entire social conservative agenda at the door and focused on limited government. And fought hard against anyone that wanted to bring those issues in, however innocently. We should have acknowledged openly that we come from very different philosophic backgrounds (libertarian, Objectivist, social conservative, fiscal conservative, classical liberal, even civil libertarian) but we’re joining together to reign in government power. Each of us could separately be involved in other activism. I could support gay marriage and you could oppose it. But as long as we had our “tea party” hats on, we would remain silent about those other issues or at least openly acknowledge that our opinion was outside the “tea party” mandate/coalition. I think if that had happened there’ld be more fire left.

B-Daddy, author of The Liberator Today blog and San Diego area citizen activist, feels that the Tea Party was adversely impacted by the “culture wars” in a very direct way.

…The left successfully portrayed the movement as racist and bigoted; and we lacked a counter-narrative. We responded in a linear and logically straightforward manner that was not convincing….

….The antidote is to continue to fight on all fronts, but smarter. Yes, we need excellent policy prescriptions to show our mettle and fitness for governance. But there is a crying need for a cultural counter-narrative. So I frame my opposition to gay marriage on free speech grounds. Call yourself anti-racist and I call you anti-white. Attack Christians for their faith? I’ll ask why you exempt Muslims. Assert feminist privilege? I’ll show that to be racist also. Tell me my opposition to Obamacare is racist and I will ask how you’re paying for premium hikes. The tactics of Andrew Breitbart are needed now more than ever, because I don’t think that the American people are as “progressive” as the polls might indicate. Establish control of the frame of reference and establish the terms of the debate.

But we all agree that the Tea Party is far from dead. In fact, one liberal hysterically wrote that the Tea Party has just taken over the Republican Party….which is shocking news to us citizen activists. Of course, since the author also blamed the Tea Party for the Gabby Giffords shooting, his assertion is obviously suspect.

Dawn Wildman, coordinator for the California Tea Party, concurs with my feelings that our movement hasn’t really faded as much as transformed.

No we are not dead! We are stopping bad policy daily. Never underestimate us! After all, we are still talking about the Tea Party and we are about 6.5 yrs old now. My father always said, ‘Learn the rules; learn them well so you can learn to operate around them,’ and that is what we are doing!

Between promoting legislation, petitioning for propositions, organizing debates between candidates, and being a favorite IRS target...well, all I can say is that we are still alive and kicking after all these years!


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