With the end of an Omnibus Bill that was remarkable for 2 items – that Democrats failed to bring to a vote any funding Bills for the entire year until now, and that it contained 6,714 earmarks worth $8.3 billion – there are those that think the Tea Party, and all the principles it stood for are dead. In essence that the Tea Party was a one-time push, with all its fury used up in the 2010 mid-term elections. Obviously Sen. Harry Reid, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others think that, considering the nature and timing of the Bills they have pushed in this lame-duck session a mere 45 days after the election.
So the question is, will the Tea Party continue to exist in 2011 and on? Will the Tea Party be absorbed in to the Republicn Party? Will it become a distinct yet non-centralized Party that will finally place a 3rd Party into American politics?
The answers are yes, maybe, and maybe. There is a lot to consider and nothing is concrete. Though, if readers were to only go by the reactions and wording of the major news media the thought would be that all Tea Party organizations folded-up on November 3rd. Which is just not true, the media just stopped caring – because politics are good for ratings only every other year.
We wanted more definitive answers, so we contacted 3 local Tea Party organizations – given that holidays and the end of the political cycle are upon us and may well limit responses. The goal was to see if the major media was correct, or if there is more going on at the grassroots level than national media can understand. One organization has completely disappeared, website and phone numbers and all. Another, sent us a newsletter previously but did not reply to our email. But there was a 3rd group that did respond – The Southern Tier Tea Party.
We asked 10 questions in relation to the future of the Tea Party, specifically in the Central New York area. The following are the responses, verbatim.
**Note that Ron Barrett, President of The Southern Tier Tea Party, was unavailable to answer our questions due to the holidays. Frank Urban responded on behalf of the organization.**
- 1) Is your organization still active?
Yes. We are very active and in the planning process for the future especially 2012. We have suspended our general meetings until after the election/holidays to concentrate on our planning process. We have just booked the Vestal Library for the entire 2011 (1st Tuesday of the month) for general meetings. We have just scheduled our Board of Directors meetings for every 2 weeks in 2011.
- 2) What are your plans for 2011?
Right now we are regrouping after the 2010 elections. We are presently doing the following:
We are getting our Southern Tier Tea Party organized in a more permanent fashion.
We have just approved a set of bylaws to run the organization (elections, membership, officers/directors, meetings, etc).
We are lining up a lawyer to become an incorporated group.
We expect to be a permanent organization in the Southern Tier for a long time.
We have just formed 7 standing committees per our bylaws and have assigned chairperson and have partially staffed them at this time. Membership, Bylaws, Strategy, Media, Education, GOTV, & Events. Each of these committees will generate plans for the 2011 calendar year.
- 3) Will you continue to hold press conferences and provide press releases?
Yes. We expect that after this lull from the recent election/holidays and after we get a 2 year strategy in place we will be more active than ever.
- 4) Have you lost/gained/maintained your membership since the election?
We have maintained the same membership since November. We will begin a major push for new members in the New Year in February. We have recently added 2 additional Board of Directors members that have raised the caliber of our leadership. We are very gratified with the leadership team that we have and it’s improved since our inception.
- 5) Has your organization been contacted by either the Democrat or Republican Parties?
No we haven’t. We do have some communications with both parties on an informal basis.
- 6) Have any of the candidates that have won the election been in touch with your organization, or have they responded about any of the issues you highlighted before and during the election?
No. The 2 major candidates that we supported both lost: Art Garrison & George Phillips. We realize that we are a new group and started in June 2010 with not enough runway to make a major impact. Also both of them had a major hurdle in their races. However we now have a 2 year runway for the next major elections and our plans are to immediately focus on those elections. We did a post mortem exercise on the recent election and know what we have to do to make a strategic difference.
- 7) Has the media been in touch? If so, have they taken a better or worse view of your organization?
There have been 1-2 contacts but not from the local media. Those 2 contacts were gathering input and did not indicate their views of the Tea Party. The local paper is very biased and has not shown an interest in the Tea Party. The local TV stations have done a good job in covering events as they unfold but have not done any in-depth stories on the Tea Party.
- 8) Is the issue you championed being addressed by any of the candidates that won election (or re-election) for 2011?
Yes definitely on the national level. Fiscal responsibility is the mantra in Washington now but it’s just words at the moment. We expect that when the new Congress takes place in 2011 we’ll see more action than words.
In Albany we don’t expect the Tea Party principles to be even considered. Albany is in such bad shape and I don’t expect those folks will be responsible any time soon. The state is broken and there’s no hope of any sane leadership coming from Albany.
- 9) Do you have events that readers should note and perhaps attend?
Right now we are in the planning stage for 2011 and as we have events, etc. we’ll let folks know via our email list, newsletter, and press releases.
- 10) Do you think that the Tea Party will have as much influence going forward (and/or in 2012) as you did in 2010?
I view 2012 as a major year for the Tea Party. I see that the determination is growing, not weakening. It will be much stronger than it was for 2010. The 2010 election told tea parties that yes, they can make a difference and everyone that I see in tea parties (across the nation) is more energized than ever. Mark my word, 2012 will be a major battle for our country with the Tea Party coming on extremely strong. This is based on not my wish but on what I’ve seen from talking to various Tea Party folks since November.
It seems clear to us, that while some organizations may wax and wane as is the tendancy in politics, the Tea Party and its principles remain firmly involved in American politics. If The Southern Tier Tea Party is any indication of the general mood of Tea Party organizations across the country, politicians and politcal leaders (like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi as well as Speaker Boehner) had best keep in mind the sweeping rout that was the mid-term elections.
In addition, let’s not forget the individual efforts out there. Just as some politicians are busy taking the holiday lull as an opportunity to hurl insults and imply the absurd, there are others paying attention and responding with truth. Case in point is a recent post by Jazz Shaw at Hot Air in reference to comments by Sen. Chuck Schumer proving his disconnection to reality –
“I got 66 percent of the vote in my state. And I saw lots of people and lots of angry people. . . . But not a single one of them, from the tea party or anywhere else, said give tax breaks to the millionaires.” – Chuck Schumer (D-NY), 12/13/2010
“Did you really think all those business owners were running away because their taxes were <i>too low</i>? Perhaps you suspected they were all moving to Massachusetts.” – Jazz Shaw
So is there a Tea Party? Will it continue in 2011 and further? More importantly, will the public – people like those reading this right now – continue to be involved in politics even as politicians and the major media ignore or misstate thier views? Yes indeed.
There is a Tea Party. Even if politicians don’t want to believe.