The state of the TEA Party: fall 2019

(This will also be cross-posted to my regular site, monoblogue. It’s the beginning of an eventual transition to an author site rather than a book-specific site.)

Since I last updated in July, we’ve had the elections I alluded to in North Carolna – where both Republicans won and maintained the seat for the GOP – but we’ve also had a more recent event which was reminiscent of the TEA Party of old. I’ll grant it wasn’t so much a philosophy-driven protest as it was personality-driven (or perhaps a little touch of desperation) but the TEA Party that came out for Donald Trump in 2016 wanted to take to the streets to support the beleaguered President last weekend.

Led by former TPP and TPX leader Amy Kremer, who now runs a group called Women for America First, the rally was slated on a weekday around noontime, which limited participation. Then they had an issue with the bus companies who were being counted on to bring hundreds more to the “hundreds” who found the time to attend the march in Washington, D.C. (However, nearly 50 other rallies were slated around the country so presumably there were thousands in attendance.)

Considering the Breitbart site set this up as a “massive march” it’s no surprise the meager turnout became the subject of left-wing derision. Of course it was, and the media got its exercise from jumping to conclusions: “Both women seemed to believe that TV video is regularly doctored to make Trump look bad,” said a report from the lefty site Mother Jones. “We are witnesses to a coup!” screamed the Right Wing Watch website, referring to attendees in Washington. “Without the president’s leadership, she fears the United States is fated to trash the Constitution and adopt communism,” intoned Cronkite News (a PBS site) about a rallygoer who actually was quoted as saying, “Not all leftists are against our country, but many have gone with the global philosophy of the New World Order.”

Yet media covered some of these smaller marches, too, in ruby-red places like Wyoming to conservative patches of blue states like Illinois. They encountered opposition in Tennessee.

At least there’s something there to believe in, though. If you’re a fan of the TEA Party Express (as I was) there’s not much to go on anymore; meanwhile the TEA Party Patriots are just hanging out on social media and doing their occasional lunch meeting.

Obviously I can’t see what each and every local TEA Party is doing, but hopefully they’ve made a habit of being involved in their local elections. If change is to be made, the local level is a good place to begin.

As for this ongoing update, I’d like to solicit more opinion and I have some ideas on how to do that. We’ll see where it goes come January.

The state of the TEA Party: summer 2019

There is one big problem with writing a non-fiction book about any subject: the moment ink is placed on paper or the 1’s and 0’s of binary code are set in such a way as to create coherent words and sentences that appear on your e-reading screen, the history is frozen in time. In my case, my history of the TEA Party stopped in the spring of 2019 once I finished The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party – And How It Elected Donald Trump. But, in some cases, the events, organizations, and some of the people I documented marched on, leaving the story incomplete.

This longing for continuation is nothing new. When I originally began working on RAF, the book was intended to conclude with the chapter that came to be known as “Onboard the Trump Train.” As time went on, and the original deadline of the spring of 2018 stretched further and further out, the book evolved to add its final two regular chapters on the attempts to repeal Obamacare and the runup to the 2018 midterms. (I also added the epilogue, which was initially intended to be part of the chapter on Obamacare before I decided it needed to stand alone.) In fact, there are a few items I reference in the book as part of a continuing process, such as the special election in North Carolina that’s a do-over for a flawed 2018 race. These updates are, in part, intended to follow these continuing stories to their conclusion.

But there’s another thing I’ve noticed, and it struck me at times during my ongoing radio tour. There are a few things I’ve been regarded as an expert on over the course of my life: history and sports trivia as part of my high school quiz team, Maryland General Assembly legislation (a.k.a. the “90 Days of Terror”) while I was active in local politics, and now, thanks to this book, I’m considered an expert on the TEA Party. I’ve been asked where the rise came and the fall was and where it will go from here, and I have my opinion on all these questions. Moreover, it’s worth pointing out that I don’t have a vested interest in the success of a particular TEA Party or organization – while I certainly agree with and wish to promote the concept of limited, Constitutional government, it can be achieved whether we have a Tea Party Patriots or Tea Party Express or not. In my opinion, sometimes those well-meaning groups (and many others trading on the TEA Party name) got in the way – but they are still worth following as the political world evolves.

There’s also a second and extremely important part to my addressing this problem: my intent is to eventually transform this website devoted to The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party into a general author site for all my past, present, and future works, including my website monoblogue, which is the vehicle 80 to 90 percent of my acquaintances know me by. I’ve written two books which combined run about 400 pages, but in writing over 5,000 blog posts I’ve probably done enough material for fifty books – and most readers don’t know my first book So We May Breathe Free: Avoiding Ineptocracy (2012) was based initially on a series of blog posts I called the 50 Year Plan, pieces which date back to the early days of my website way back in 2007.

Thus, the intention is that this update will be a quarterly effort. I don’t think there’s enough material for a monthly update, but I don’t want the subject to get too far out of mind such that having an annual or semi-annual edition would create. Four times a year seems just right – and who knows? Maybe this could end up being a print newsletter or something that makes me a few shekels to enhance my retirement.

For now, though, how about we delve into what’s going on with the TEA Party and some of the items I concluded my book with?

I suppose the first update is that NC-9 Congressional race, which will be contested on September 10 because Republican Dan Bishop avoided a runoff by garnering 48% of the primary vote back in May. He faces Democrat Dan McCready, who lost the 2018 election, along with Green Party hopeful Allen Smith and Libertarian Jeff Scott, who also lost that 2018 election. So both sides have a siphon from their support. By the end of September, the fine folks of that district should be represented once again – however, that September 10 date won’t be the only election in North Carolina since NC-3 voters now have to replace the late Rep. Walter Jones, a maverick Republican who often departed from the party line. The GOP already held a seat earlier this year in Pennsylvania.

I hadn’t really talked a lot about the Tea Party Patriots toward the end of the book as the number of TEA Party chapters has dwindled. So in looking up their goings-on over the last few months, I learned that their once-regular monthly updates ceased over a year ago – May 2018 as a matter of fact. Over the last few months, the TPP has basically come down to doing a somewhat regular feature called Lunchbreak Live, which gets a few thousand views. But it’s a far cry from the practically daily releases I sometimes had to wade through to find relevant material for my book.

I will say, though, they still have a broad list of action items so they are still providing guidance to activists who still believe in the TPP’s cause. On the other hand, aside from an admonition about the upcoming spending deal (which I will return to momentarily) as well as an announcement about the “Tea Party for Trump” coming from erstwhile participant Lloyd Marcus, the Tea Party Express has been all but silent over the last few months. I wonder if they even have their buses anymore?

Now, about that spending deal. On Tuesday, thanks to The Patriot Post, I came across one of the most damning indictments of the current situation in Washington that I’ve seen in some time – and unfortunately, every word is true. “New Budget Deal Puts Final Nail In Tea Party Coffin,” cried National Review, and in a nutshell it’s a sad history of our spending avarice.

Thus, to those on the radio who ask me where the fall of the TEA Party occurred, this may be part of answering the question. I’ll certainly admit there are still many millions of people out there who supported at least some of the TEA Party agenda, but the problem came as it always did: believing the political process would be the shortcut we needed to avoid the necessary changing of hearts and minds.

I suppose the only counsel I could give you is akin to advice I’ve given in a couple of my radio interviews: get off the social media, open the front door, and start talking to your neighbors about the benefits of liberty. (Well, maybe some icebreakers about the weather, how the local ball team is doing, and so forth first – work your way around to it.) The biggest problem with political discourse today is that we do it from behind a keyboard, often with an assumed name. I figure if you’re too ashamed to say what you do without being behind the mask of anonymity (with reasonable exceptions) then the statement probably should be taken with multiple grains of salt. It’s what drives me crazy about people who pass along years-old fables and fake news without thinking – oftentimes, they are on the right side of the political spectrum and we’re supposed to be the smart ones.

After all, if we as a group could put together half a hundred rallies around the country in eight February days and top it well over tenfold a few weeks later, we must have a little common sense. Let’s use the lessons we learned from the previous rendition of the TEA Party and figure out a way to work back toward the Constitutional republic we were supposed to keep.

A #TBT special

I’ve mentioned before, someplace, that I have been a writer for The Patriot Post for over a decade now. In going through some old boxes over the holiday weekend (which it was for me since I took Friday off) I found a thumb drive with several years’ worth of submissions, including one I thought was appropriate for this space. This was written in October, 2009 – before we had our own bylines so it wouldn’t be under my work if you did a search there.

Message to GOP: Don’t count TEA Partiers in yet

It’s the dream of every political strategist: a large and highly motivated group of voters ready to get out, work for, and financially support a slate of candidates who they align with politically. Unfortunately, the national Republican Party may have missed the opportunity to take full advantage of the TEA Party movement because the GOP is backing candidates who don’t always work for lower taxation and less government.

TEA Partiers angered by Republicans supporting the bailouts and Waxman-Markey “cap and tax” bill are also bitter at the GOP establishment – particularly the National Republican Senatorial Committee – backing certain incumbent or anointed candidates who are working with liberals in Congress.

To that end, they are throwing their support behind candidates the GOP establishment shunned, such as Chuck DeVore in California, Marco Rubio in Florida (who is in a primary battle against the moderate outgoing governor Charlie Crist), and Doug Hoffman of New York, who was spurned by local Republican officials for an upcoming special election in the 23rd Congressional District in favor of a moderate, Dede Scozzafava, and opted to run under the Conservative Party banner.

In a year where the political winds and poor performance of Democrats both favor a Republican resurgence, their treatment of this motivated voter bloc shows the national party is not doing itself any favors listening to the wonks and not the people. Beltway insiders may look back after next November and wonder what could have been if they’d realized sooner what Americans truly want.

**********

Obviously this thought definitely didn’t first cross my mind back in 2016 when I started on Rise and Fall, but it illustrates an ongoing frustration I had with the GOP as a whole once you got past the local level. Yet in the near-decade since this piece was published I have learned a lot about the TEA Party and what it really wanted – and so can you by buying the book for which this site was created.

Four – yes, four – new radio tour stops on the schedule! (Make it seven!)

I’m going to write this as a stub of sorts because I want to fill in some blanks later – such as how to listen live if possible – but over the next couple weeks I have several new stops on the radio tour. It’s deserving of its own page, which I may create over the weekend if I get a chance.

So here’s where I am slated to be:

Sunday, July 7 – The John Whitmer Show on KNSS-AM 1330 and FM 98.7 – 8:30 PM CDT from Wichita, Kansas

Tuesday, July 9 – The Ross Report (with Carol Ross) on KPEL-FM 96.5 – 3:05 PM CDT (after news) from Lafayette, Louisiana

Wednesday, July 10 – Mornings with Gail (Gail Fallen) on KFKA-AM 1310 – 8:35 AM MDT from Greeley, Colorado

Triple dip Friday:

Friday, July 12 – The Brian Thomas Morning Show on WKRC-AM 550 – 8:05 AM EDT from Cincinnati, Ohio (close to my old stomping grounds as a Miami University grad.)

The Voice of Reason” with Andy Hooser on KQAM-AM 1480 and FM 102.5 – 1 PM CDT from Wichita, Kansas (a return to that fine city)

The Trevor Carey Show on KALZ-FM “PowerTalk 96.7” – 3:30 PM PDT from Fresno, California

Tuesday, July 16 – The Morning Show with J.R. Williams and Celinda Hawkins on KXYL-AM 1240 and FM 102.3 – 8:10 AM CDT from Brownwood, Texas

I probably have five or six more in the works right now. At this moment the idea is to schedule stops through August 16, closing up shop when we go on vacation. I’m thinking about a “fall tour” in September and early October before I stop actively seeking interview spots so I can write the next book!

Radio appearance #2 scheduled

And hopefully it clears the logjam.

On Thursday, June 20 I’ll be joining “Brother Craig, the Hatchet Man” as he does his afternoon program on WNTW-AM 820 and FM 97.7 in Richmond, VA and nationwide on https://thereallyrealdeal.com/. I’m slated to be live at 5:20 p.m.

I’ve been listening to a couple of Brother Craig’s previous author interviews and it sounds like we’ll have a good time!

I have another pre-recorded session to do Friday with another station in another location, air date to be determined. I’ll let you know when that airs.

Some initial reviews

Over the couple weeks since my book came out I’ve had good feedback. Here are some of the comments:

Gary Aminoff (Los Angeles-based TEA Party founder):

Michael Swartz has written this book about the history of the TEA Party, and was kind enough to document my role in it. If you are interested in how the TEA Party originated and it’s role in getting Donald Trump elected, you should buy this book.

Mark Williams (former president, Tea Party Express):

I just finished reading the newly published book by Michael Swartz on the #TeaParty and #TeaPartyExpress and highly recommend you read it too. The impact you and I had was epic (as clearly implied in his subtitle) and on par with any other political/social upheaval perhaps since the Civil War. Swartz captures it, mostly objectively, very clearly, and perhaps most important puts events into context.

Yes, I am in it. Yes, I am both a hero and a goat and a normal guy with clay feet, just like you, but together we changed the course of the future.

Read it. It’s future history.

Thanks to Michael for the enormous effort he put into researching this book to get it right.

I also got an e-mail note from a friend of mine who bought the e-book the day it came out. She said:

I enjoyed reading your book.  I find your writing style very cozy and easy to enjoy.

You told it pretty much as I remembered living it.  I was horrified by the co-opting of the Tea Party, but at the same time, politics is about power, so what did I expect?

The biggest point that I didn’t realize until our present circumstances was how deeply entrenched the Deep State was.  The Uniparty was already in place when we thought we could make some progress.  Ha!  We just didn’t realize what we were up against.

The bureaucrats, the Uniparty, and the media make for a pretty impressive bunch to try and defeat and we just didn’t get the big picture at first. 

(…)

Even though I homeschooled all five of my children, two of them are in liberal land to my horror.  Education is the start, but you are right….only the hand of God will turn this around since our hearts have to be changed. 

(…)

Congratulations on a job well done, Michael.

*****

And I also have my first reading coming up on June 22 for those local to Salisbury (or who don’t mind making the trip – it is on a Saturday, after all.) The details are here.

A word about hand sales

While “hand sales” (selling hard copies of books in person, such as at a table at an event) is not considered the “go-to” means of sales for most books, I think this book could be an exception to the rule based on the experience I’ve had with a previous book as well as seeing other local authors about doing this very thing. I probably sold as many copies of So We May Breathe Free (my 2012 book) in person as I did online.

Maybe political books are the sort of thing that beg for a personal touch.

As I recall, the rule on Amazon is that I can’t undercut their price on sales, which is fine. In fact, the advice I heard at a recent writer’s conference I attended was that $20 a unit was a good price for hand sales because you seldom need to make change. Considering the Amazon price is just a few dollars less, i think it’s a good deal.

Yesterday I shipped some books out to a few fine folks who helped me out. By doing so I found out about how much shipping would cost and it allowed me to establish a price for autographed and shipped copies: $25. The extra $5 is intended to cover shipping, which seems fair.

So if you’re interested in an autographed copy – particularly since the “First Edition” batch is numbered and dated, which will not be the case in subsequent orders – feel free to do so while they last. I have a few people interested already but there are about 10 to 12 more where that came from.

Just as an update: a friend of mine may be able to arrange another radio appearance in a different location, so pray for the best on that one. Help me spread the word!

First promotional radio interview scheduled

I’ve been in contact with Mike Bradley, morning host of WGMD-FM in Georgetown, Delaware, and I am slated to speak with him on my book next Friday (the 26th) at 7:40 a.m.

It’s been a little while since I’ve done radio (I just looked it up: over three years) and even longer since I did it live – the last few times have been pre-recorded segments for later broadcast. So I’m a bit anxious, particularly since I will be on the phone rather than in studio. Back when it was WICO-AM and did news talk, I would actually sit in studio with Bill Reddish and John Robinson to do their shows when I was a featured guest. I got more comfortable with that format once I realized it was just a conversation with a big boom mike between us. So we’ll see how it goes.

So on my home blog there will be another “radio days” segment., which will be #21 in the series. But I look at it as practice – how many people now do podcasts and such? Every little bit helps!

Presale begins April 15!

This will be the e-book cover.

The long road is about over. I am in the Amazon queue to begin presale, with the official kickoff for the e-book to begin this coming Monday, April 15 – the tenth anniversary of the Tax Day TEA Parties which occurred around the country.

I’m shooting to have the print version ready for presale as well.

With this good news comes a little bad news, or maybe not. Once the book is published, I’m going to create a new author website so this one will probably become a redirect. But that’s down the road a piece – for now I will be enjoying this accomplishment!