How to Spoil a Tea Party




The Tea Party movement is a genuine bottom-up. grassroots protest. It’s fueled by angst and rage arising from a feeling of helplessness at the realization that the people have lost control of their government.


What many people don’t recognize yet is the proper target of their rage: a self-serving, self perpetuating, inbred and bipartisan political class.


Some in the Tea Party movement think that it’s a protest against Democrats. I refer them to “Government, massive expansion of, 2001-2006” – a period during which Republicans held all the marbles.


My purpose here is not to beat up on Republicans. But let’s not delude ourselves: Parties aren’t about principles, they’re about power – getting and keeping it.


Restoring limited, representative government will only happen when both political parties and all politicians are forced to align not just their words but their behavior with this goal. Here’s how Milton Friedman described how to accomplish that:


“The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”


Note what’s not included in that recipe: Electing more lawmakers of a particular party.


No party or politicians launched this movement, but now that it’s arrived some will try to take control and use it for their own purposes – gaining and keeping power. If they succeed it will be the end of the Tea Party movement, because there’s an inherent contradiction between a protest against the political class being led by members of the political class.


If that happens, the grass roots participants will drift away, dispirited, confused, the energy sucked out of them.


How to prevent this? It begins with deciding that you really want to.



29 Responses to “How to Spoil a Tea Party”

  1. fkani Says:

    When a building is burning it doesn’t matter who started it all that counts is that you put it out. You can lay intellectual blame on who started it but save the country first.

    What now matters is today and tomorrow.

  2. Mike Says:

    Clearly the two major parties engage in a pseudo-war of ideologies to create a public perception of political melodrama. It is a brilliantly created strategy of divide and conquer, which has the effect of making voters actually believe they are aligning themselves with one or the other set of principles.

    Meanwhile, regardless of who wins any given election, the government just continues to grow like a cancer. The “battle” staged every two years serves as a red herring to distract the public while Uncle Sam gets bigger and more intrusive all the while.

    Many more people need to see the whole thing for the charade it is.

  3. Jason Gillman Says:

    My take is pretty much along the lines of Eric Odom’s answer to Steele
    “love to have you there with the real folks” but NOT an RNC event.

    Neither the RNC nor the DNC listened when nearly 90% of the country screamed bloody murder about the bailouts.

  4. telldatruth Says:

    Tea Party gear can be found at

  5. Soapbox Jill Says:

    Protesting extreme taxation and and the paralyzing bailouts seem to be the main thrust of tea parties. Whoever stands up for true conservative values of small government and low taxes ought to get the support of this movement.

    The question remains, where does the movement go from here? Will the tea parties (which are supposed to be crashed and made violent if possible by Acorn) do enough? What’s the next step? All I know is principles must somehow lead the way.

  6. jmchugh4u Says:

    A thought on the “where do we go from here” question: “” began as a counter-attack to the Clinton prosecution, didn’t it?

  7. anne Says:

    Have to agree with Mike.

  8. Jason Gillman Says:

    “Will the tea parties (which are supposed to be crashed and made violent if possible by Acorn) do enough? ”

    If we stop after the tea parties we have done nothing.

    As to ACORN… My experience with those who showed at the last tea party in Lansing is that MOST are easily identifiable as concerned about the current financial situation we face. There were a couple who were not clear supporters, but seemed willing to listen at least. True ACORN activists will be very easy to identify by tones of anger and sulkiness in our upbeat midst.. I am sure of it.

  9. djkelly Says:

    I think the failure of both parties is why there’s been such a rise in non-affiliated registrations. I had been registered that way for years and stayed out of politics because I was disgusted with all politicians.

    I finally got sick of trying to pick the lesser of two evils in most elections, or in my local elections seeing too many races uncontested. I recently changed my affiliation to Republican since there’s a new attempt to rebuild our local Republican party so we can have an actual race for a change. Although I’m still fed up with the RNC, I’m focused on supporting the local level now.

    Hopefully the tea parties will encourage people to get involved. Elected officials need to get the message they work for us and they’ll only do that if we keep telling them. Many of us aren’t naturally the type to push our ideas on others because we’re too self-reliant and don’t want much from government. It’s time to let politicians know this and demand that they stay out of our business.

  10. Janie Williams Says:

    Along with ACORN, be aware of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) coming to a tea party near you:

    “Immigrant rights organization CAUSA has a scoop on an emerging schism between immigration restrictionists and the Tax Day Tea Party organizers. The nativist group ALIPAC wants its members to attend local Tea Parties around the country, but Tea Party organizers are asking ALIPAC members to leave their immigration politics at home. From CAUSA:

    Today, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) sent out an email to members telling them that they are lending their support to the Tax Day Tea Party efforts nationally on April 15, 2009.

    In the email, ALIPAC urged its supporters to attend the Tea Day rallies to bring attention to the group’s concerns about taxes and undocumented immigrants. (A common myth propagated by restrictionist groups is that immigrants don’t pay taxes and rely heavily on public benefits.)”

  11. Bill Harrold Says:

    A thought on the “where do we go from here” question: Ironically, the Constitution is the problem that needs to be fixed. The beginning of the end of this country was when the “progressives” passed Amendment XVI. He who controls the money controls everything. The focus of the tax tea party, therefore, should be to repeal the sixteenth amendment and replace it with nothing. We need to expand the tea party movement to a “get the XVI amendment repealed” movement. Getting rid of the Federal Reserve should also be a goal. This is the only way the Government class will take the movement seriously.

    Will there be ever growing protests as there was for civil rights, the woman’s vote, or even gay marriage? Will we continue to feed the beast?I feel like I have been invited to dinner just to find out that I am the main course. See you the 15th.

  12. Mike Says:

    As to where we go from here…

    Vote out incumbents, consistently. Nothing we can do will be better to throw speed bumps in the path of government growth every two years. We don’t want “experienced” politicians, any more than we want “experienced” criminals.

    Do what you can in a calm and rational manner to persuade those who continually advocate more government solutions that such solutions DON’T help them. Avoid the temptation to vilify liberals and advocates of more government and look at them more like your children. When they’re small and naive, simplistic things appeal to them. It is your job as a parent to teach them that what’s right isn’t always easy and vice versa. Show them – take a drive through a public housing project if you dare…introduce them to someone who has to live with a government-run healthcare system, if you can…ask them to tell you what the government has REALLY done for them, and see if they can separate that from what the government has done TO them…ask them if Freedom or Government built the most prosperous country in history…

    There are lots of things we can do. It took over 230 years to get to this point, and it won’t change back overnight. We have to stay true to the Constitution and raise the next generation of kids to see its value. It’s the only thing that allows the awesome power of the aggregation of the individual energy of millions to build the greatest society ever known to man.

  13. jmchugh4u Says:

    Mike is wise, on political parties, liberals (always accord the presumption of good will to political adversaries), and voting-out incumbents. See my post, “Replacing the inbred political class with ‘Bipartisan Vigilance Voting’.”

  14. Texian Says:

    Any great movement comes to a point in time where its next action is most critical. The Tea Party Movement is at that point. What will happen on April 16th? Does the movement just keep having gatherings? Will the people keep showing up?

    Here’s my suggestion: Hold a rally/gathering at the state capitols of every state. Hold this event 30-60 days from next weeks event. Doing this so soon keeps the people involved and motivated.

    Should the state level rally be successful then stage a rally in Washington DC. Stage this event within 30-60 days out. Once agin, this will keep the people motivated.

    However, I disagree with Jack. I believe that at some point there must be leadership or this movement will fall apart. Too often I have seen these type of political movements fall apart because they lack cohesion. While I agree this movement does not need to be co-opted by the RNC it does need leadership. Total lack of leadership in a movement is called anarchy. Anarchy by it’s very definition is doomed to fail.

  15. jmchugh4u Says:

    BTW, welcome visitors from !

  16. Texian Says:

    Thank you!

  17. me Says:

    You guys are laughing stocks… really Teabagging. very funny and oh so gay. FYI the economy is turning around and thing are starting to get better. You should have protested in 2002 when Bush started his illegal war.

  18. Mike Says:

    “Me” says the economy is turning around. Can he substantiate that? Before or after he learns to spell?

  19. jmchugh4u Says:

    Victor Davis Hanson in IBD:

    The last Bush administration budget racked up a $500 billion annual deficit and added more than $4 trillion to the national debt over eight years of governance.

    During the first Bush term, when the Republicans controlled Congress, government spending grew on average at an annual rate of over 4% — far higher than during the previous Democratic Clinton administration.

    Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress may be planning unheard of multitrillion-dollar budgets, but they are in fact only expanding on earlier Republican fiscal recklessness.

    You know we live in strange times when it’s hard to figure out whether to blame big money or big government.

    In the past, Democratic populists could rail against the Wall Street excess that had helped to wreck Americans’ retirement portfolios.

    These populist Democrats, though, are gone, replaced by liberal grandees who are more interested in the money of Wall Street than its ethics.

    Today’s Democratic-led government, meanwhile, has gone on a spending spree, taking on massive debt for all sorts of new “stimulus” — and Republican conservatives, given their recent profligate past, can hardly serve as credible watchdogs.

    So, take your pick whom to blame: not-so liberal Democrats, now trashing the Wall Street that enriched them, or not-so conservative Republicans, suddenly railing against Washington’s out-of-control budgets that they themselves had never balanced.

    In a democracy that chooses its own leaders, maybe the real problem is ourselves — for wanting big government without big taxes, big stock returns without big risk and easy money without hard work.

  20. Tax Day Tea Party » Have people lost control of their government? Says:

    […] How to spoil a Tea Party “The Tea Party movement is a genuine bottom-up. grassroots protest. It’s fueled by angst and rage arising from a feeling of helplessness at the realization that the people have lost control of their government. […]

  21. Shirley Says:

    Very well stated. Thank you.

  22. John Says:

    The republican party has been infiltrated by democrats in sheep’s clothing, over the past twenty years. I left the democrat party for the same reasons why I just left the republicans. And that would be spending the peoples money like an undisciplined brat.
    It’s time we got back to our founding fathers principals, and tell these bloated politicians that “We Surround Them.”

  23. Mike Says:

    Anyone have a thought on the “Obama Deception” movie currently making the rounds on the web?

    It’s full of conspiracy theories, mostly centering around the New World Order idea. It gets kind of shrill at times, but there are some elements that make one sit back and think…

    Just curious as to what some other opinions might be out there.

  24. jmchugh4u Says:

    re. “Obama Deception” –

    It sounds in a way like an attempt to resurrect the culture wars. Arch warnings of dark “new world order” conspiracies don’t seem an effective way of inspriring the broad middle class to demand a return to limited, representative government. Better to keep our eye on that ball.

  25. RedStateVoter Says:

    me says “we’re so gay”. From a liberal, who supports all things gay, I guess that’s a compliment? Honestly, is that a valid argument?

    It sure will be great to see a bunch of Patriots on 15 Apr, right after I hit send to pay the taxes for myself, my 81 year old mother, and my son who is having a hard time keeping his small business open. What a crock, tax cuts for 95 percent. I’m the bailout for my family, and no one is bailing me out.

  26. Boston Patriot Says:

    Thanks so much for the Milton Friedman quote; It sums up the issue beautifully.

  27. Doug Thorson Says:

    You are on target here Jack.

  28. A good point | Cold Fury Says:

    […] McHugh blogs about the possible pitfalls of these […]

  29. Will the Tea Party movement fizzle after April 15? « Jack McHugh’s Blog Says:

    […] Jack McHugh’s Blog Comments on politics, policy, culture, history, Michigan and more – not-boring, not-trite. « How to Spoil a Tea Party […]

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