Tea Party Nation (TPN) held its National Tea Party Convention on February 4-6, 2010 in Nashville, TN. C-Span televised some of the events. News outlets (Fox, etc.) also covered the event that hosted speakers, held workshops, and conducted other business. The convention's primary objective was to bring together representatives from the many Tea Party groups that exist throughout the United States. Tea Party Nation is itself an organization trying to form nationally riding the growing wave of grass roots activism. More information on TPN and the convention may be found on its website: www.nationalteapartyconvention.com

Overall, the event seemed successful given the true grass roots nature of the organizers and their goals. Like any new endeavor, numerous issues arose that reflect what other Tea Party organizations are experiencing. Some core themes that will need to be addressed going forward:

Direction. There is a need for clearly articulated vision and mission, consensus, and commitment.
  • Will the Tea Party movement morph into a third political party? Should it?
  • Will the Tea Party run its own candidates or support those of existing political parties that align well with Tea Party ideals and objectives?
  • How can a national organization support grass roots efforts which are typically local or regional in nature? Likewise, how can a local group impact the regional and national picture?
  • Will the movement be commandeered by members of the current parties in power (Dem, GOP)?

Leadership. Avoiding the pitfalls that accompany the "cult of personality" will be a challenge as leadership issues are addressed.
  • Where will the Tea Party leaders come from? Historically, group evolutions have produced both "appointed" and "risen" leaders. Appointed come from elections, official declarations, stepping forward early on, etc. Risen leaders emerge based on what they bring to the table over time.
  • How will leaders be identified and brought up through the process?

Execution. A cohesive plan, supporting organization, and extraordinary communication are factors critical to success.
  • Who, what, when, where, why, how?
  • Will the overarching organizational structure be more oriented toward "top-down" (command/control) or "bottom-up" (grass roots) linkage, alignment, and authority?

Question of the day ...
What feedback and/or activity can local Tea Party groups undertake to weigh in on the process and make for an effective national grass roots organization?

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Comment by patriotm1 on February 10, 2010 at 12:06am
Thank you for the comment. Good to hear that RattleWithUs will not be co-opted by either party or special interests. Focusing on issues and not individual positions will broaden the base since more folks will feel comfortable participating.

For instance, nobody wants taxation without representation. Dems, GOP, independents, liberals, conservatives, etc., can all pay taxes -- the question becomes what are they getting for their work and $$? Same goes for excessive deficit spending, it's plain bad policy to spend excessively more than you take in.
Lots of common ground to pull together lots of different people harboring different perspectives. It takes all kinds to make a world -- grass roots and Tea Party can be nicely inclusive if issues and not individual positions become the common ground.
Comment by Sharon Lollio on February 8, 2010 at 1:35am
Interesting post. Thought I would answer a couple of the "questions" listed here. I can only speak for the Michigan TEA Party organizations - but we have all agreed we are NOT in favor of a third party. They have never won and there is no time to make a viable one for this November. The Republican party used to represent what most of us are demanding from our elected representatives - we just need to "work" towards reminding them of that. Precinct delegates being very important positions to accomplish getting the right candidates into vote-able positions. This should also answer the question of how the regional picture can be affected. But if you want an example of the national "picture" - I would point to Scott Brown. Though he thanked the Independants for helping him win. make no mistake that much of his campaign money and work force came from the grass root movement. As far as organization structure we firmly believe it is bottom up. We are fighting against big goverment and big machines. We are surely not going to allow ourselves to be swallowed up by the type of entity that caused us to rise up in the first place. TEA Parties are "Us", "We the People", "Fellow Patriots", "Americans" - if anyone is ever part of a group that does not listen to what they are saying, hold meetings open to questions and ideas from them, and looks like the goal is to promote their egos or postions - then get out and find the group that does. We know of many and know the goal and intent of their organizations is to preserve our freedoms, liberty, constitution and our nation.

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