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.

Remembering the rant

For the first time, I’m cross-posting from my “home” website, monoblogue.

On a humdrum Thursday morning, there were probably a few dozen thousand who were watching the CNBC show “Squawk Box” and a lot of them probably weren’t paying full attention when one man’s statements were the spark that lit the fuse of pent-up political frustration. It was a fire that raged out of control for several years before being contained by a political party more interested in power and winning elections than in its stated principles.

I half-jokingly wrote that night that I thought Rick Santelli would be the next guy on the unemployment line, but instead he’s become something of a cult hero for those things he said a decade ago. Yet in looking up his whereabouts it appears he’s doing pretty much the same thing as he did a decade ago. In that respect, he’s a lot like most participants in the TEA Party who did what they did out of love for the country, not fame, fortune, or political power. I’m sure his name has come up a lot today, though.

But in just eight days after Santelli made his remarks, tens of thousands of people got together in over thirty cities around the nation and began a phenomenon that people still talk about today. And because there are a number of useful lessons that came from the TEA Party, I wrote a book detailing its history: Good Lord willing, I’ll have it ready in time to commemorate the tenth anniversary of one of the most massive and widespread grassroots uprisings in recent American history, the Tax Day TEA Party of 2009 on April 15. I was at the one here in Salisbury, and five months later I was at the unforgettable 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington. (I posted on that event in two parts the next two days, and the posts reminded me I had even more photos on my then-relatively nascent Facebook page. Revisiting this with the new WordPress block setup allowed me to add the captions I wrote originally, too.) As they say, the rest was history.

And to think: how many people just thought February 19, 2009 was just going to be another humdrum winter’s day?