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Tea Party activists read the leaves on the “Culture Wars”

Tea Party activists read the leaves on the “Culture Wars”

Whether “faded” or “transformed”, we are still active!

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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“In fact, one liberal hysterically wrote that the Tea Party has just taken over the Republican Party…”

Lefties who write things like that do so to avoid having to apologize for the fact that street-defecating-Occupy Wall Street’ers, pro-terror sharia apologists, militant public unions and crony capitalists have taken over the Democrat Party.

    Projection is one of the left’s greatest tools . . . and failings.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Aucturian. | May 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    RE: “Lefties who write things like that do so to avoid having to apologize for the fact that street-defecating-Occupy Wall Street’ers, pro-terror sharia apologists, militant public unions and crony capitalists have taken over the Democrat Party.”


Shane Atwell is a LLLLLIBERTARIAN. Which is fine, and certainly within what I’d recognize as the broad, heterogeneous group that comprises the TEA party MOVEMENT. UP TO A POINT.

But he no more speaks for the TEA party than I do.

The difference being that I NEVER pretend to, and Leslie shouldn’t have used him as a sock-puppet for her points.

    Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 27, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Com’on, you little cowards with your “down-twinkles”.

    Rise up from behind your rotten log, and engage me. I won’t kill you…

    Heh! Don’t be skeered…!!!

    Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | May 27, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Yeah, he’s just reciting an LP wish list, which was NOT what the Tea Party was about on founding either. The movement started after Rick Santelli’s epic rant on CNBC ( ), it was mainly about bailouts with a minor in deficits and debt, and later included opposition to Obamacare when it became evident it would be shoved down our throats. In 2009-10, the Tea Party had a 60% public approval.

    The problem was so many tried to hijack it and make money from the name. Freedom Works, TPP, TPA, TPX, etc., each privately controlled and none of which gave more than 5% of their revenue to candidates or issues campaigns, spending most of it on salaries, travel, plush offices, and more fundraising. No one elected any of them, but they presumed to speak for the TP and asserted their personal agendas.

    As a result, TP approval is now down to 25%.

      casualobserver in reply to Estragon. | May 27, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      I’m not clear on what you and Ragspierre want. Do you want all libertarians and Libertarians to disengage from the Tea Party in all its forms? If not for all of the groups you list, the “original” group would still be rather small. And if not for Matt Kibbe, a number of people I know in the, get ready for it, PROGRESSIVE NORTHEAST would still be crapping on the Tea Party. But some I know are actually on board with a number of the principles.

      Maybe the Tea Party’s path to reversal and to a growing relevancy again is to keep the various factions (right word?) or splinter groups alive and active. Seems the better route than wishing those who aren’t originalists (just being a little mocking) to go away.

        Ragspierre in reply to casualobserver. | May 27, 2015 at 6:12 pm

        Well, speaking only for misef…

        I hold a lot of common cause with SOME libertarians.

        But I DO believe in securing our national borders, which SOME libertarians think is bad, evil, ‘orrible, blach, pitoooyi.

        I DO believe in natural rights, which includes the one about LIFE being sorta…I dunno…fundamental.

        I DO believe that “marriage” is a word that means something, and that that meaning is NOT what-ever-the-fluck people…or courts…cram down our throats. OTOH, I DO support a civil arrangement that allows various associations the CIVIL benefits that are extended to marriages.

        I DO believe that SOME drugs are dangerous both to individuals and to society at large. What those are, and how they should be restricted or even prohibited are questions I think bear some discussion or even experimentation.

        I DO believe that communities have a right to police powers, and that police officers are NOT just “me” with a gun. They are legatees who we have vested with PART of our natural right to defend our persons, those we love, and our property.

        I DO believe that we have a right…sometimes an obligation…to project our national values (and I think we HAVE those)…outside our own borders. Not willy-nilly, but CERTAINLY. I think it’s legitimate to examine very closely under what conditions and circumstances that should happen, just as I think it’s stupid and simplistic to say we NEVER should.

        So, in short, I can live with…and vote with…a lot of libertarians, and we can argue and discuss around the margins.

        Ragspierre in reply to casualobserver. | May 27, 2015 at 7:42 pm

        Oh, and I’ll add this…

        EVERY TEA party rally I’ve attended…and there have been several in this very big population area…was never restricted by anyone as far as I could tell. And I wouldn’t have restricted them if I had the power, or supported that if the organizers had tried it.

        Lyndon LaRouche followers were a BIG presence in at least one or two.

        It was all a matter of showing up, which I thought was great.

        Do I want to push anyone out of that MOVEMENT? Hell, no. But I WILL contend with them over ideas. That’s fair, certainly. Just like here.

      platypus in reply to Estragon. | May 27, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      You have no idea what you’re talking about with regard to TPP. By lumping TPP (a 501c4 non-profit) in with Freedom Works (a 527 PAC) shows you are lost like a ball in high grass.

      TPP pays its top level peeps a salary. How much is none of anybody’s business since TPP does not charge for membership and disburses a lot of money to member tea parties for expenses and other projects. Plus the top level people travel all over the country supporting various tea parties.

      All the lower level peeps are volunteers, including my wife who is a Washington state co-ordinator and a local tea party co-founder.

      Perhaps you are thinking of Tea Party Patriots Citizen Fund, which is a PAC established so we could legitimately support candidates.

      The tea party has not been silenced or diffused or any crap like that. We are busy taking over the GOP one precinct at a time and educating our local peeps on how to effectively influence politicians.

      If you want noise and fury, call the left. If you want action that works, attend your local tea party and do some work.

    “A sock-puppet for her points?” ROFL! Actually, I shared them because his perspective was different from my own! That they generated such a robust discussion means Shane may have hit a nerve. One reason I am so grateful for my Tea Party friends is the willingness to share their viewpoints on such matters with me in an intelligent, detailed manner!

      Ragspierre in reply to Leslie Eastman. | May 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Forgive me IF I saw a trend that wasn’t there, but this is the SECOND time in a few days you’ve poked this same bear. I do look for patterns, some of which perhaps YOU are not aware.

      Why don’t you give us a clear exposition of your own “social conservative” thoughts. Then I won’t be obliged to guess.

    Erudite Mavin in reply to Ragspierre. | May 29, 2015 at 12:14 am

    I was at a number of tea party rallies during their early days here in San Diego and not the only one who bailed out.
    Many were fed up regarding the crowd with Ron Paul t shirts and their truther and anti war signs.
    I saw enough of that countering Code Pinko rallies.

    Conservative Republicans are strong on National Security and understand Radical Islam must be defeated.
    Libertarians hold the opposite view

What a great post! I agree that we are still active (I know my TEA Party group is), but “active” isn’t the same thing as effective. The left hurt us. A lot. And we sustained some self-inflicted wounds, as you note.

I would love to see us take over the Republican party and bring it back to its conservative, Constitutional platform. If the progressives can take over the Democrats, we surely can do the same. 😉

All I know is, certain people are still trying to hang the Tea Parties with the KKK label.

CloseTheFed | May 27, 2015 at 1:22 pm

To call control of the borders a “social issue” boggles the mind.

We are being transformed into a central American hellhole, and the Constitution provides the federal government shall protect the states from invasion. My state is invaded to the extent that in one county, 70% of the students are latin.

Wake up.

    Ragspierre in reply to CloseTheFed. | May 27, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    But, really, it IS a social issue. This is why I constantly repeat the idea that most people using that term don’t really understand it…sometimes on purpose.

    A LOT of people use it as invective for ideas they don’t like, while failing to even get that “housing policy” and even monetary policy ARE “social issues”.

    Gun control? Social issue. Free speech? Social issue. And ETC., some more…

      Agreed, Rags. There is a knee-jerk reaction against “social conservatives” that is ultimately self-defeating. Almost all laws and regulations govern social issues, so trying to separate the fiscal from the social gets tricky.

      The saddest part of all of this is that this is exactly the in-fighting that leftists plan on when they attack social conservatives. They WANT us fighting each other, they need it to win. And we happily oblige.

      “Fiscally conservative but socially liberal” sounds good; heck, I used the same line back in my twenties. A couple decades later, it’s pretty clear that you can’t really separate the one from the other. I used to think that gay “marriage” wasn’t a big deal, and I even argued that as conservatives we should support it. What I had failed to see is that gay “marriage” was never the goal, the destruction of Judeo-Christian values, religion itself, were the goals. Things we don’t even see as either social or fiscal are . . . both.

      Some conservatives will continue to try to separate the social from the fiscal or Constitutional, but it’s a losing battle.

        tom swift in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 27, 2015 at 8:46 pm

        Almost all laws and regulations govern social issues, so trying to separate the fiscal from the social gets tricky.

        Sophistry. You can use the same argument to claim that we’re all socialists.

        A reducto ad absurdum is exactly that—absurd.

        Ragspierre in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 27, 2015 at 9:39 pm

        Um…no, Tom

        You are simply unable to respond to the OBSERVATION (perfectly valid and demonstrable, BTW) with anything but a resort to a misuse of a logical fallacy. Fuzzy did not make a reductio ad absurdum argument, but rather a common-sense observation respecting most (almost all) laws.

        I made the rather bold statement that even monetary policy is social policy. That’s also simply true, and I’m prepared to back it up.

        The world of “strictly fiscal conservative” ideas is so limited as to have an almost undetectable impact on American politics.

        But you take a minute and list them all for us. We’ll all wait…

Henry Hawkins | May 27, 2015 at 1:33 pm

One point Ms. Fuzzy may want to consider is that the Tea Party orgs in California face a far more leftish populace and opposition than almost all other states (though several rival: IL, NY, etc.). California has not seen the leap to the right that so many other states are enjoying, much/most of it due to TP member or TP sympathetic voters. NC, for instance, went totally GOP on the state level in the 2010 midterm and the good results grow daily.

What I suggest is that the CA TP/liberal dynamic is quite different from the national TP/liberal dynamic. This could possibly be missed by CA TP-ers, though I suspect Ms. Slipper is well aware of it. Y’all are waist deep in opposition compared to most other states or regions.

    Heyas, Henry, I’m in Florida now, but I was in Massachusetts back in the glory days of the TEA Party.

    I will say that Massachusetts (where I lived and voted until 2011) was and is pretty progressive and generally anti-TEA Party, like Cali. Yet we still managed to get organized and work to get Scott Brown elected to “Teddy Kennedy’s” (er, the people’s) seat as the 41st vote against Obamacare. That was no small task at the time, and the question, the measure, perhaps, of the TEA Party’s effectiveness, is “could we do the same today?.” The answer, I fear, is no.

    I’m not dissing the TEA Party; heck, I’m still very involved myself. What I am saying is that our power and influence has greatly diminished. Failing to acknowledge that means there’s no place to start in rebuilding it.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 27, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      I saw the California banner in the pic and got you confused with Leslie. (I’m a fan of both).

      As for diminishment, not so in my book – across the nation we’ve prompted two midterm tsunamis in a row, 37 of 50 governors, state legislatures, etc., nothing but gains all the way down to local town councils. Only the presidential race has been a problem because of the GOP national party’s miscalculations and ineptitudes.

      Two things I’ll predict:

      1) Between now and 2016, Tea Party sentiments and passions will slowly rise on their own.

      2) Lame duck Obama, et al, will do something so outrageous, it’ll spark and stoke the Tea Party minded folks into an eager frenzy to vote.

        We’re all TEA Party, and I think it’s safe to say we’re both (Leslie and I) a fan of you. 🙂

        Your point about state and local gains is critical.

        Your point about Obama doing something to push an extreme response is a good one. He will. But in his own time and on his own schedule. We’ve let a lot (a LOT) go unanswered, but it’s building, and he’s using that. This is a trap we must avoid at all costs. He doesn’t have the power, we, the people, do.

        Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Henry Hawkins. | May 27, 2015 at 6:36 pm

        RE: “As for diminishment, not so in my book – across the nation we’ve prompted two midterm tsunamis in a row, 37 of 50 governors, state legislatures, etc., nothing but gains all the way down to local town councils.”

        AGREED! Not diminishment, but the rest of the nation has shifted so fast to the right, that in context, the Tea Party and everything about it doesn’t stand out in contrast at much.

        …and the Leftist Communist Demorats are still telling the same lies as though it were 1999 still….

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of our deaths are greatly exaggerated.

To see how ‘dead’ the Tea Party is, remember the recent LANDSLIDE election.

Watch us ramp up.

    When? When do we ramp up, Fine? Mid-terms are typically Republican because we’re the ones who turn out (Dems depend too much on the president to lead their party and lose down ticket if the “personality cult” doesn’t identify there).

    When do we ramp up? When we learn that NSA is blanket monitoring everyone? When we learn that conservatives are “enemies of the state”? When we learn that the IRS has been used to illegally stop TEA Party activity? When we learn that the president has violated the Constitution? When we learn that the White House is complicit in helping Iran get nukes?

    When do we ramp up? Does it have to be a solely fiscal issue? What about the 35+ new Obamacare taxes, do we ramp up then? Or maybe when we find out that our tax dollars are being squandered in crony socialist schemes like green energy and the AGW hoax?

    When, exactly, do we ramp up?

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 27, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      You can ramp up – or give up – whenever you wish. My Tea Party group never ramped down.

        I get it, Henry, I really really do. The left was shaking in their boots about the TEA Party, we were winning. Actually winning.

        They paraded out coffee klatches and “no labels” parties, they organized rape-and-patchouli fests like Occupy (down twinkles!), they did everything in their power to recreate the actual grassroots uprising that was the TEA Party. And they failed every single time.

        The TEA Party was real; they couldn’t recreate it on the left with hippies pooping on cop cars and all the leftist influence in Hollywood.

        When they couldn’t recreate it, they sought to destroy it with lies, propaganda, and IRS thugs.

        We’re still out here, yes, and yes, we still care just as much, but we are not as effective as we were in the first two years of Obama’s presidency (I noted this in my post that Leslie links). That’s not me wavering in my TEA Party roots, support, and commitment–that’s me noting a fact and hoping we can turn it around. Post hasty.

          Henry Hawkins in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 27, 2015 at 3:02 pm

          “We’re still out here, yes, and yes, we still care just as much, but we are not as effective as we were in the first two years of Obama’s presidency.”

          But we don’t have the focusing factors of the shock of the stimulus bill and looming Obamacare to stoke the fires now. But a 2016 presidential race will slowly bring the fire back up as it approaches. (Unless we get stuck early in the process with another milquetoast RINOish GOP candidate and conservative hopes wither on the vine after Romney and McCain, both decent men personally, but wrong guy / wrong time for both elections).

          CHIN UP! FORWARD!

      Ragspierre in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 27, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      I’m pretty stinking rampant. Cats couldn’t scratch it…

      tom swift in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 27, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      When, exactly, do we ramp up?

      When there’s an election.

      At other times, it’s all just talk.

        TEA Party “talk” literally derailed Obama’s domestic agenda. We did that in town halls and in protests and in marches on Washinton. Waiting until it’s time to vote is not working; not only do Dems steal (as in literally steal) elections, but our passivity is directly related to our losses. The TEA Party was effective when it was vocal and present.

          tom swift in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 27, 2015 at 9:49 pm

          TEA Party “talk” literally derailed Obama’s domestic agenda.

          His agenda seems to be percolating along just fine. Destruction of American influence abroad, high energy prices, homicidal levels of racial animus, an unstoppable flood of criminals over the border, the imposition of the national surveillance state, perversion of government offices to support Party goals … in terms of fundamentally transforming the United States, he’s been the most successful president since FDR.

        Ragspierre in reply to tom swift. | May 27, 2015 at 2:58 pm

        If we SHOULD have learned anything, it’s that voting is NOT nearly enough.

        Being Breitbart is WAY the hell and gone MORE than voting.

    Captain Keogh in reply to | May 27, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    The 2014 elections were won by the GOP because they finally wised up and ran good, smart, and most importantly electable candidates which meant no Todd Akins, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, et al.

      Ragspierre in reply to Captain Keogh. | May 27, 2015 at 3:00 pm

      Akins was NOT a TEA party candidate. At. ALL.

      You need to get your facts right, bud. AND you need to toll up the TEA party people who won.

        Captain Keogh in reply to Ragspierre. | May 27, 2015 at 6:55 pm

        I know “Bud” that Akins was not a tea party candidate but he was a blithering social con idiot who could not answer a question about abortion/rape intelligently (and neither could Richard Mourdock in Indiana back in 2012). The GOP candidates of 2014 could.

        Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 27, 2015 at 10:09 pm

        Well, for the sake of history…

        1. why did you mention him at all in your post apparently on TEA party failed candidates?

        2. he WAS a eGOP guy who got the nomination by eGOP chicanery, IIRC.

        3. he WAS a terribly weak, corrupt candidate, who couldn’t even manage to put together a staff that was not “nepotism central”.

        4. so what’s your point, bud?

Captain Keogh | May 27, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Two things killed the Tea Party
1. Rotten candidates such as Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and Richard Mourdock.
2. Allowing themselves to be hijacked by the social conservatives.

Subotai Bahadur | May 27, 2015 at 2:58 pm

The tactical situation varies from location to location. In Colorado, several county Republican organizations collapsed during the 2014 election. As in their activists were so disgusted with the national and state parties that they left as precinct chairs and central committee members. Our county party went broke and could not pay rent on its HQ. Our TEA Party ran the 2014 campaign with no help from the Republicans. We started in 2013, and ran GOTV hard for a year. Successfully. Over the objections of the State Republican party. We had the highest voter turnout in our county since territorial days [68%]. Every Democrat on the ballot in our county, lost our country badly. After the election, we ended up taking over the county Republican party, for what little its brand is worth, and refilled the precinct and central committee offices. This happened in several other counties too.

The collapses were caused by the actions of the state and national party who can no longer be told from the Democrats, at times campaigning to protect Democrats.

We elected Cory Gardner as Senator. Statewide, there was a massive TEA Party effort to get him to replace Mark Udall. This was despite how he got the nomination. There were 8 people running to oppose Udall at first, none of them Gardner. We had 7 of them here for a tri-county candidate forum.

Before the precinct caucuses. Before the state convention, before any part of the real nomination battle had begun other than the initial candidate filings; they were all called before the State Central Committee. They were told that if they did not drop out of the Senate race, that they would never have the support of the state party on anything. And that Representative Cory Gardner, who was not running up to then, was the candidate. And that one of the Senate hopefuls who lived in his district [Ken Buck] would be the candidate for the House there. The Politburo had spoken.

We got him elected, because we figured that anyone was better than Udall. We were wrong. He has voted alongside our other, Democrat, Senator Bob Bennett from day one. His latest gambit is a bill to make oral birth control pills OTC, to prove there is no “war on women”.

Tell me again how Republicans are different from Democrats.

Our group has pretty much decided that we will concentrate on the local elections in our county; mayors, councilmen, school boards, special district boards which is what we have in 2015. We are running our own TEA Party candidates for some. The general tenor here is that IF there are real elections in 2016, the goal should be to remove those Republicans who betrayed us. The State Republican party expects us to bust our tails again for whoever they name as the Senate candidate against Bennett, and for whatever the DIABLO national puts in for president. There is no enthusiasm for working for anyone who is not a proven Constitutional Conservative. So the Republicans may be surprised. The only way they could change our minds is to prove that they are different in action and policy from the Democrats; which is anathema to them. q.v. WHIGS.

We can’t vote our way out of this if there is no one to vote FOR, nor any national political organization that intends to support the rule of law and the Constitution.


    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | May 27, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    RE: “The collapses were caused by the actions of the state and national party who can no longer be told from the Democrats, at times campaigning to protect Democrats.”

    That is “very very” telling……..