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.