The final puzzle piece fell into place last night. I’ve criticized the Republican Party for not realizing what was happening when the people who call themselves Tea Party completely took over. The extreme ugliness did not happen with the small group who started that movement; that all came when PACs, people with self-serving interests, and large numbers of clueless, gullible followers infiltrated the grassroots movement. In the end, the infiltrators who called themselves Tea Party were, in fact, the same old Turdblossom puppets who were already controlling the party.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve argued with people who said progressives should look at how successful the “Tea Party” was and emulate the things they did well. My definition of success is to achieve greatness through honesty and hard work – not to manipulate through deception and with money. I don’t believe cheaters ever win what matters. Therefore, I do not consider what the final version of the Tea Party accomplished to be a success at all. I consider it a huge failure on the part of the Republican Party to recognize the damage that allowing and encouraging outward bigotry and inanity for personal gain (races in 2010) would cause – to their Party and to this country.
I had that argument repeatedly with several people. Around the same time, I lamented a similar infiltration of the Occupy movement – even directed some of my friends to web pages where radical anarchist groups and militias were teaching members how to infiltrate Occupy. Same as what happened to the original Tea Party group, people with their own agendas were eager to infiltrate, dilute, and harm this new movement.
I had tuned in to the live stream of Occupy Wall Street from the moment it began, listened to it day and night for the first few weeks, communicated with the original group, and asked their advice before organizing an Occupation in my city. Originally, they were not in favor of offshoots. In retrospect, I understand why.
My attempt to organize the occupation in my town ended very badly but, as with all things that end very badly, I learned valuable lessons. In one day, regarding the exact same experience, I was criticized both for wanting everything my way and for losing control because I didn’t act like a leader. Truth was, I didn’t have a MY way and the movement was not supposed to have leaders. I had done the necessary grunt work in order to accommodate people who wanted to do things the Occupy Wall Street way, and came with an agenda of decisions that the group needed to make together, at the first General Assembly.
People who knew absolutely nothing about the Occupy Wall Street group criticized me for getting permits (Zuccotti occupiers had permits). They weren’t interested in shunning one of our biggest problems – main street media (Zuccotti occupiers were proud of ‘the whole world is watching’ via live stream instead of MSM). One person went straight to the MSM, declared himself the ‘leader’ of the event that I had organized, and even did interviews. People who either knew nothing about what they were streaming from Zuccotti or chose to ignore it said they were going to bring guns and make sure they got arrested, no matter how many times the original group sent out pleas to keep it peaceful and not do those things. And, even though you couldn’t listen to the live stream for ten minutes without hearing the list of things that the movement did not want – branded groups, religion, political campaigning etc., other groups lined up to slap their brand on the occupation, a political candidate came to distribute his literature . . .
Some people criticized me for giving up my permits and going home; others cheered when I left because they didn’t want to “sit around talking to old people about how to fix things” anyway.
The most valuable lesson I walked away with that day was that I must question everything, no matter who presents it. Some of my closest activist friends walked away from me and followed the self-proclaimed anarchists who said they were bringing guns and wanted to be arrested. One claimed that a man with a bullhorn told her to follow him. Another said they had better music on the other corner. After all the times I had criticized the Republican Party for allowing the infiltrators of the original Tea Party to destroy that movement, I realized that day that I was surrounded by friends who might just as easily do the same to my Party.
Over the last few weeks, a new group (PAC) unfolded and introduced themselves. I watched friends jump on board, probably because the group used the word Progress in their title, but remembered my Occupy lesson and remained cautious. Turns out, I have experience with some of the organizers. One is the self-proclaimed Occupy leader who went to the MSM, and who held anarchist training sessions to help those who wanted to bring guns, get arrested, and make the police department look bad as part of their Occupy experience. Another is someone who tried repeatedly to convince me that the Tea Party was a success so we should learn from them. I received an invitation to participate from someone else who mocks my principles. Another had criticized me for refusing to take one group’s name into events that other groups organized, in order to come out with new names for the mailing list and dishonest head counts. And, one has admitted that they expect a salary and benefits for doing things that grassroots activists volunteer to do.
So far, I can’t pass through the cloud of Karl Rove tactics and inconsistencies that stands between me and jumping on board.
Headcount. Might sound petty to many but I ask everyone to carefully consider where their heads get counted. I stood firm (and alone) when Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul made a rare public appearance recently at something that was billed as a “Tea Party Rally”. First, I think it is manipulative and ugly for my Senators to put me in the position of having to mingle outdoors with gun-toting, head-stomping, bigoted, ignorant people in order to hear my elected officials speak or ask them a question. Second, I never, ever, at all, in any way, want to take the slightest chance that my head is abetting the main stream media when they inflate numbers to make that group look successful.
I write this as a reminder to everyone to carefully investigate all groups before jumping on board. It matters, greatly, where our heads are counted and our dollars are spent. Let’s protect the Democratic Party from infiltration by groups seeking profit or to serve personal interests, and who might, in the long run, have the potential to do more damage than good. Seems to me, the Tea Party lesson we should have learned is that the tea cups cracked and chipped in a very short time, and their success was simply an illusion that ended up harming many people. Not something I want to emulate.
The word 'progressive' is starting to make my stomach lurch the same as the words 'family' and 'patriot' when I see it in a title. I'm backing away from it and calling myself a liberal Democrat.