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?