Former Representative, and current leader of advocacy group Freedom Works, has a warning for tea party candidates: Don’t call yourselves tea party candidates.
Armey told an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that the media environment has become so overwhelmingly hostile to the tea party movement that candidates associating themselves with the movement are just asking for trouble.
Which speaks volumes about the state of our “objective” mainstream media, no?
Regardless, is this good advice? I think that it is, though not necessarily for the reasons Armey gives. As a tea party organizer myself, I actually think that we need candidates who stir things up. Who challenge political conventions. Who aren’t afraid to slaughter sacred political cows. We shouldn’t be encouraging these candidates to run under false pretenses. We shouldn’t want them to bury their true feelings. Let’s mix it up. Let’s open up the debate.
Armey’s suggestion that these candidates not invite conflict with the media suggests that he’s afraid they’ll lose in the marketplace of ideas.
I disagree, however, I also think so-called “tea party candidates” shouldn’t call themselves tea party candidates. Because the tea party isn’t a political party, and nor should it be. The tea party is a state of mind. One that can drive a political movement and elect candidates, but one that will be destroyed if it becomes an official movement with chairmen and executive committees and official candidates.
The tea part is a venting of frustration with the status quo of politics. The tea party, though driven in a lot of ways by specific issues, is even more an expression of outrage about more than just the health care bill or run-away spending but specifically the way we’re being governed.
The tea party is also a renewed interest in the founding principles of this country. Ed Morrissey recently noted a trend in television advertising that seemed to be targeting the tea party state of mind. I had that post in mind as I browsed at a book store recently, and he’s right. Given the number of books about our nation’s founding, our founding fathers, our constitution, our revolution, etc. I saw prominently marketed in the store it’s clear that the tea party movement is more than just protesters waving signs in the street.
But any attempt to organize this societal re-awakening will result in its untimely death, I think.