Liberals across the country have been vigorously attempting to discredit the followers and supporters of the Tea Party movement since its inception. Predictably, they have gone right to the familiar labels so often employed by the Left when they are trying to alienate: racist, sexist, fascist, reactionary, radical, etc., etc., etc.
Fine—it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. “Play it again, Nancy,” we conservatives say, channeling Bogart, as the same hackneyed talking points make their way through the annals of the New York Times, MSNBC and the blogosphere. We have come to expect little else.
And for their efforts, admittedly, the Left has had some success in applying pressure and attaching baggage to a movement that, really, isn’t all that radical.
What’s most interesting is that liberals seem to be spending an extraordinary amount of time hemming and hawing, attempting to destroy what they keep insisting is a fringe, inconsequential movement. Our very own Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, meant what he said when he referred to Tea Partiers as “evil-mongers.” His counterpart in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calls them “un-American.”
The problem for liberals, though, is that despite the negatives, the Tea Party supporters have survived tooth-and-nail, fighting their way through the typical roadblocks and landmines left by their opponents. In fact, a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll—outlets not exactly known as conservative bulwarks—revealed that “45 percent [of respondents] say…they agree strongly or somewhat strongly with [the Tea Party’s] positions….”
And even other left-leaning news outlets, like Politics Daily, are taking note. Bruce Drake’s recent blog post on the poll, from which the above quote is taken, is entitled, “Most Americans Don’t Know Much About Tea Party, But It Has Potential.”
As the saying goes, nothing scares people more than the truth. This explains at least partially why liberals are so vehement in their opposition to the Tea Party, despite their insistence that it is merely, as Obama showed us a few months back, a fly to be swatted.
What mainstream conservatives are currently grappling with, though, is how to channel the grassroots groundswell surrounding the Tea Party movement and apply it to the more mainstream GOP platform. They’re having a problem bringing this baggage-heavy group into the conservative fold, and without tarnishing the precious little positive energy the GOP has established through recent political wins.
But Gary Emineth, Chairman of the North Dakota State Republican Party, thinks he’s found a way.
In Bismarck, N.D., today, Emineth and his team in the North Dakota GOP are hosting a conference of state Tea Partiers, Republican activists, social and fiscal conservatives and Republican state politicians in a town-hall-style gathering. The intention is to bring these heretofore disparate but politically conservative groups together to increase their numbers, bolster their efforts and bring some level of organization and direction to a grassroots organization desperately in need of it.
“There are immense challenges in doing something like this,” he said to me over the phone. “It’s a matter of unification—and not just fiscally.”
While Emineth stressed that the Tea Party movement is one based primarily on economic issues—and I would agree; “Taxed Enough Already” is just one example—he said conferences like the one he’s running in Bismarck help the different groups identify other issues, including social issues, that may complement their overall message platform.
While Emineth is expecting about a 1,000 attendees, what’s particularly interesting is that Michele Bachmann will be the keynote speaker. Securing her for the role brings a level of legitimacy to the event that it would surely lack without her. And perhaps to the parties’ benefit (both Tea and GOP), she’s also not Sarah Palin.
Emineth has already taken this coming-together of Tea Party, conservative and GOP activists in a town-hall-style framework and pitched the notion to the Republican National Committee. He hopes to get the RNC to sign on for endorsements for more state-by-state conferences down the road and through the 2010 elections—and he’s gotten positive feedback.
The bottom line is that the GOP wants the votes and the Tea Party wants the organizational infrastructure the Republican Party can afford them—especially with an RNC go-ahead for state-by-state conferences like the one in Bismarck.
The left can no longer rely on the spectre of conservative “evil-mongering” to save them from this movement, particularly when its views are shared by a growing plurality of voters.
Watch the Take Back America town hall and rally on Friday, Feb. 12, starting at 6 p.m. CST/ 7 p.m. EST at TakeBackWashington.net.
Nick Fitzgerald is a young public relations professional working in Washington, D.C. A classical music buff, he also authors a blog, Bach & Tonic, on politics, music, and culture.