With conservative firebrand Sarah Palin headlining, it’s been billed as an event to fuse and celebrate the tenets of the disparate “tea party” movement that has rocked American politics over the last year. But so far, the convention has been anything but a show of unity.
The decision by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R) of Minn. and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) of Tenn. to pull out of the convention, coming after similar withdrawals from groups like the American Liberty Alliance, has given Americans a glimpse into the vigorous internecine battles tearing at what critics mock as America’s latest mobocracy.
Much of the conflict stems from the fact that a grassroots movement which supposedly represents the common working people features many of the trappings of Washington elitism:
The price tag: $549 for the convention and another $349 for the speech by Palin is money that many believe could be better spent supporting tea party-backed candidates in next year’s election. Some have gone further, saying the upscale lobster dinner contradicts the tea party movement’s thrifty image, and feeds into theories that the convention is really a GOP “ruse” that will earn the organizer millions.
Predictably, event organizers attribute the lack of unity to the fact the Tea Party is a genuine grassroots movement:
"It goes to the key point [that] grass-roots movements tend sometimes to be unwieldy," convention spokesman Mark Skoda tells NPR. "These are not professionals. We are not professional corporate organizers."
“The controversy only proves there’s no central authority,” says John O’Hara, author of “A New American Tea Party” and one of the early tea party organizers. “And wherever and whenever people are getting together to talk about getting the nation on track, it is a positive thing.
I’ve been sitting here with my wife trying to come up with some good "tea" puns to describe this convention. The title of this post is the best we could do. Any suggestions?
What’s on your mind tonight?