National Tea Party Convention: Let’s go?

My first thought upon hearing about the National Tea Party Convention was, “Let’s go!” No, not to shell out $349 to $549 dollars to hear Sarah Palin do her best Tina Fey impersonation, but to see if we might able to build some serious left-right coalition based on issues we can agree about. We don’t have much time, but I imagine a broad coalition of leftists heading down Nashville. Tennessee on February 4th with a big olive branch and a sincere wish to join forces on those issues we share common ground on and build a real populist movement.

Before you reject my idea completely just consider the following. On Monday the United Auto Workers and Tea Party protesters were protesting in front of the Detroit Auto show.

The tea partiers are protesting the federal government’s 61% stake in General Motors, while the UAW is in favor of the government saving the American auto industry.

As someone who is staunchly union, a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and the Industrial Workers of the World, I actually disagree with both stances taken. But that’s really not important because the reality is the Tea Party people represent a pretty wide sample of the political spectrum and are so easily lumped together. Consider the words of Joan Fabiano, “a retired GM employee and a leader in the local tea party movement:

Why must some Americans boycott GM and throw INNOCENT people, such as myself, out on the street trying to find another job in this economy? Did I do something wrong? Would you like to see yourself out of a job if your company’s leadership made the errors and you had NOTHING to do with it?

Instead of lumping these people into a big category, why not realize that they are pissed of people with real grievances? There’s no doubt lots of things we’ll disagree on. But I see common ground. Joan Fabiano, and probably lots more tea party people like her, understands that the workers at GM and other auto companies were innocent victims of the irresponsible decisions made by management. I’ve met Tea Party folks who are against the wars. I’ve met others who are hyper critical of the financial bailout and the Federal Reserve. And while their vision of a tiny government may not coincide with yours, can we at least agree that making the government we have more accountable to the people and the laws we already have in place is a good thing? Do you think we could all agree that our electoral system could be more democratic?

In the “About Your Convention” section of the National Tea Party Convention website I found this little gem:

The local tea party’s themselves know who will best represent them, bring the best ideas, and have the most desire to move this process of organizing to the next level.

There’s an affirmative for Democracy. There’s no doubt that this convention will attempt to control the Tea Party angst through a typical top-down model, but it’s also pretty clear that these are people willing to think for themselves who appreciate democracy. I can work with that.

This weekend I’ll be attending a conference on Historical Materialism this weekend. Yes, a bunch of Marxists discussing the Economic Crisis as if it were in a petri dish somewhere with no idea of how we really reach out to the masses, organize, and move forward. As one of few Anarchists, I imagine, in attendance I will bring this idea up and see if it gains any traction. I will bring it up in local anti-war groups, community action groups, and, of course local labor unions. We might not have enough time to organize something for this conference but we still might be able to form something in the coming months that really does reach out to the populist angst of the Tea Party Protesters and build a real populist movement in this country.


  1. > a bunch of Marxists discussing the Economic Crisis as if it were in a petri dish somewhere with no idea of how we really reach out to the masses, organize, and move forward

    But first they must consult the Sacred Texts for guidance on what to do, then have endless discussions and arguments (and maybe a purge or two) based on their theoretical understanding of obscure snippets of Marxist doctrine before deciding the current crisis doesn’t fit the dogma of what a proper crisis should be, then adjourn by singing The Internationale and chanting “Smash capitalism.”

  2. I wonder if Sarah Palin will be talking about her new job as a FOX talking head? You really think we have enough common ground with this group to merge? You seriously don’t see that they’ll spin around and stab us in the back if we do, faster than you can say “Et tu Burte?” A group that’s boycotting a US company, that the government has sunk tax dollars into? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    Have fun meandering amoung the cows, trying to convince them it’s a bad idea to stampede. I just hope it doesn’t start while you’re in the middle of the crowd. Good luck.

    • Woody,

      Well the “stabbing in the back” happens plenty amongst leftist coalitions so I don’t imagine that would change, but I do think there is enough common ground on some of these big issues, like the war and the bailouts, to join forces and push this country in a better direction.

      Regarding the boycott of GM, as I pointed out that is the “official position” but not the position of all. In fact that’s why I quoted Joan Fabiano who disagrees with this stance. I’ve been to tea party events and they really do attract a wide range of folks. There are elements I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, but I think there are plenty of hard-working Americans in their ranks that we could find common ground with and build a real populist movement.

  3. I would think there would be more grassrootsy efforts from the tea party than an overpriced for-profit version of “tea party” convention – one that many on the grassroots side of their movement are shunning themselves – than this one.

    Just sayin’.

  4. Like any other grassroots effort, you won’t find it at a convention. No one I know plans to attend, nor has the money to go even if they wanted to. So who’ll be there? Not rank and file teabaggers from across the country; more likely those who have set themselves up as mouthpieces, who AREN’T the people you want to network with.

    Here’s an easier way to meet teabagger sympathizers: come to Utah for a weekend, bring your favorite firearm, and we’ll go down to the range on Sunday when people take their families for a couple of hours of recreational shooting. Or, if you ride horses, come when they’re rounding up the calves or taking sheep up to (or down from) the mountain. Or just hang out in the local diner and chat with folks as they leave– though you’re less likely to be trusted without a common activity.

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