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This Is Grassroots?


Is doesn't look grassrootsish to me.

The National Tea Party Convention -- set for next month in Nashville, Tennessee -- is drawing a lot of attention. The negative type. Exhibit A:
For a while, I’ve been calling and emailing the organizers of the National Tea Party Convention with some basic logistical questions, to no avail. Kevin Diaz explains why: the convention, held in Nashville next month, will be closed to all but “selected” members of the press.

[snip]

This really is unusual. As a journalist, I’ve been allowed into sessions, dinners, everything at conferences hosted by the Eagle Forum and by Focus on the Family. Extra credit to Eagle Forum here — when I was covering the How to Take Back America Conference in St. Louis, Phyllis Schlafly’s son Andy, an organizer, invited me away from my media seat and into a seat at his dinner table to chat with more activists. And some of the most controversial speakers at the National Tea Party Convention, like Rick Scarborough, happily chatted with me inside and outside of their sessions at previous events.
Interesting. You'd think that a movement with little in the way of money and big-name-celebrity endorsers (save for The Chuck Norris and Joe The Plumber) would want as much media attention as possible, no?

Exhibit B:
Tea Party Patriots, which helped put together a September rally that drew tens of thousands to Washington, view the confab -- which is being held at Nashville's swank Opryland Gaylord hotel -- as the "usurpation of a grassroots movement," according to Mark Meckler, a leader of the group. "Most people in our movement can't afford anything like that," Meckler told TPMmuckraker, referring to the price tag. "So it's really not aimed at the average grassroots person."

Robin Stublen, a Tea Party Patriots volunteer, echoed that view. "This convention is $550 dollars," said Stublen. "How grassroots is that?"

Indeed, one conservative activist who has organized Tea Parties with several local groups told TPMmuckraker that even though she lives in the Nashville area, she still can't afford to attend. "To me its not worth it," said Toni, who blogs at Bear Creek Ledger and asked that her last name not be used. "I'm not gonna throw my money around for that."
Exhibit C:
* What is it, exactly? Are Teabaggers a grassroots "movement," a marketing enterprise, a new activist organization, a political party, or something else altogether? Or some combination? It's unclear.

* What does it want? Do these activists intend to strengthen a wing of the Republican Party, or fight from outside the GOP structure?

* Where does it want to go? Some Tea Party folks are libertarian-minded, with an emphasis on the size of government. Others are religious-right-style activists, concerned about abortion and gays. Who's behind the wheel? Will there be two Tea Parties?

* What does it intend to offer? The Tea Party gang wants government to cut spending, but it doesn't say where. It wants policymakers to reduce the deficit, but it doesn't say how. Activists take all kinds of positions on all kinds of issues, but most of them seem misplaced and confused about basic details. Is there some kind of policy platform in the works, or will they stick to vague right-wing generalities?

These details matter. And given the divisions over the increasingly-bizarre National Tea Party Convention, the fissures may not be resolved anytime soon.
It seems to me that the National Tea Party Convention is a group of people trying to make money off of the Tea Party movement -- since it is the 'hot' political item right now.

If a viable third party emerges from this convention, I'll be truly surprised. It appears that there is entirely too much turmoil and infighting within the ranks of the various tea party groups to come up with a clear agenda.

Thoughts?