The TEA Party Express (TPE) is taking a lot of heat from Wisconsin TEA Parties for promoting Republican US Senatorial Candidate Mark Neumann as the “TEA Party Candidate” in next week’s Wisconsin Republican Primary. As most folks know, the TEA Party movement is a highly decentralized grassroots movement with no national leadership structure. Tea Party Express is in fact a California based organization, not even based in Wisconsin, so naturally, local TEA Parties are pretty steamed about the presumption and inference that they endorse Congressman Neumann in the closely fought battle for the nomination.
In point of fact, most TEA Party organizations in the state of Wisconsin are 501(c)4 groups are legally barred from endorsing ANY candidate for tax purposes. While they are almost all uniform in their support of Republican Candidates, the 501(c)’s actually go to great lengths to invite state and local candidates to speak, giving each a chance to reach out to fiscal conservative voters. However, there is no uniform support for one candidate, nor is it reasonable to expect in a nomination fight where all four candidates are ninety-seven percent the same, that there would be even within individual groups.
So, the presumption of the California based TPE in making the endorsement, making ad buys for Neumann, and using their bus tour in Wisconsin as a means of promoting their candidate, without any discussion or consent of local groups, is seen more as an offensive power group by the Californians in a state they have no representation in. Why is this important to Wisconsin though? Candidates have claimed they are the Conservative or TEA Party choice consistently, and most news outlets have supported them in this, repeating the claim, particularly when a group with national aspirations endorses them. If he’s not really the TEA Party Candidate, why is this a big deal?
Simply put, people tend to believe the labels that the media apply to candidates. Names, after all, have power. During the GOP Presidential primaries, numerous candidates claimed to be “The Conservative Choice”, in particular Santorum and Gingrich, who were in truth a Social Conservative and an Establishment Republican respectively according to their public statements and public records. While most TEA Party members are socially conservative, Social Conservatives are not necessarily fiscal ones. Look beyond the individuals, and the distinction is even more deliberate, and more misleading: Progressive, Democrat, and Liberal, all chosen more for marketing value than actual political belief.
Voters believed these labels attached to candidates because the mainstream media, which has its own record of labeling people to control public perception, told them it was true. Names have power. Voters, particularly in contested primaries as in Wisconsin, are often looking at what category a candidate falls into, be it RINO, Establishment, Fiscal Conservative, Social Conservative, or TEA Party candidate, in making their decisions in the voting booth.
In seizing upon the endorsement of Mark Neumann, particularly in the wake to the Texas Senatorial Primary, Tea Party Express without the consent of Wisconsin TEA Parties, is seeking to seize upon it’s own label, that of National TEA Party Organization. This is also nothing new, since from the very beginning of the movement, national figures and organizations have sought to take control and steer the huge political power of the decentralized TEA Party movement. To be fair, they’ve probably tried to give it a unified national presence, something they’ve never needed nor wanted, rather than an overt power grab, but the end result is the same.
While TPE has been a valuable part of the movement virtually from its inception, it is viewed by local groups as a little more than a valuable partner, just as national groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth are and continue to strive to be. It is, ultimately, the unusual strength of the TEA Party movement that rather than be another centralized, national political action group, directed along establishment lines from an office on K Street in Washington, it remains a decentralized local phenomenal focused on ground up political action and education of individuals, then manipulation of demographic groups so common among Liberal and Progressive activism.
The Sheboygan Liberty Coalition was formed while preparing for our first TEA Party on September 5, 2009. It was a front page event with over 4000 attendees rallying behind concerns of government irresponsibility, excessive spending, breeches against our Constitution and systematic stripping away of our liberties and freedoms. That momentum propelled the members of our small group to continue fighting for the principles established by our founding fathers.
Sheboygan Liberty Coalition moved to a NEW location!
Thursday, April 4 at Sheboygan Luthen High
March 16th--"The Life and Character of Reagan" by Dr. Jake Jacobs at UW Sheboygan, Wombat Room at 6:30 p.m.
March 19th and 20th--"Free Market Warrior Economic Literacy" Seminar with Loren Spivack at Sheboygan Lutheran High School at 6:00 p.m.