The tea party as a force for changing politics

Next week marks the first anniversary of the Rant Heard Round the World: CNBC reporter Rick Santelli’s televised tirade about federal bailouts, including the statement, “We’re thinking about having a Chicago tea party in July.”

The tea parties started well before July and spread far beyond Chicago. The Tea Party Patriots alone boast 1,000 affiliated groups, with more than 70 in Georgia. Another group held what it called the first National Tea Party Convention last weekend in Nashville.

It was the political phenomenon of 2009, and perhaps 2010. Yet questions still abound.

Who will lead the tea partiers? (Sarah Palin?) Isn’t this just a front for Republican organizers? Has the movement split, given that some tea party groups stayed away from the pricey Nashville confab?

All of which miss the point.

Tea partiers share some core themes: limited government, free markets, individual liberty and responsibility. But there’s more to them than that.

Listen to tea partiers and you’ll hear about “taking back our country” or maybe “taking back the Republican Party.”

But you’ll also find those who are following politics closely for the first time. These are people who weren’t politically engaged before; they aren’t taking back, they’re taking over.

And good for them. Engagement is what sets the tea parties apart from mere populism or a resurgence in conservative-to-libertarian politics.

But besides the ideas they represent, the tea parties — which have too many flavors to be one movement — are the evolution of what people for several years now have called Politics 2.0 or, in the manner of a similar development in software, “open-source politics.”

Wikipedia, which knows a thing or two about the open model, describes open source as a method of programming that “permits users to use, change and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified forms. It is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner.”

Change “the software” to “the GOP” or “political power,” and that is the tea parties to a T.

A brief history of open-source politics might begin in 2004, when bloggers came to political prominence. That splash coincided with the rise of the Netroots, who turned Howard Dean into an unlikely, if fleeting, leader for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The social media of Web 2.0 gave activists a new way to force themselves upon party and candidate apparatuses. Barack Obama in 2008 rode Politics 2.0 to the White House.

But here is where the tea partiers depart from the Netroots — aside from agitating to shrink, not expand, government.

Democrats never had to worry that they wouldn’t be the beneficiaries of the Netroots, who were only concerned with promoting certain Democratic candidates and liberal issues. Republicans who think they are destined to reap where the tea parties sow are mistaken.

If new Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is the tea partiers’ first electoral victory, Republicans ought to be struck by how little Brown wrapped himself in their mantle. The party should be further struck that the same activists were willing to lose a special congressional election in New York to defeat a bad GOP candidate. Even Texas’ uber-libertarian Rep. Ron Paul faces (three!) tea party opponents in this year’s primary.

They are changing the framework, not working within it.

Getting back to software, Microsoft has long insisted on sticking to its closed model. And it should have every right to do so, even if that ends up being a mistake.

The GOP faces the same choice. It can agree to work with the new political programmers, or it can try to force them to accept what it’s offered all along. I doubt the tea partiers will go for the latter.

79 comments Add your comment

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 10th, 2010
8:30 pm

I wish the tea partiers would run someone in the Repub Senate primary this year.

Democrats are Corrupt, Repukes are Lying Scum

February 10th, 2010
9:27 pm

Join me in the Tar and Feathers party, nothing changes politics like tarring and feathering crooked politicians. Let’s start with RoytheCrookBarnyard.

Democrats are Corrupt, Repukes are Lying Scum

February 10th, 2010
9:48 pm

Viva La Revolution….

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
10:48 pm

The so called tea party are nothing but thinly veiled racist, period! They are nothing but the klu klux klan without the hoods, and without the violence, and that is a fact. The tea party is a joke. If they were so worried about big government spending , and the like, then where the hell where they in 1990 when the united states government spent big money on the 1st iraq war(desert sheild/desert storm)? They are a straight joke, period! They only formed when President obama too office. Why? Because they are afraid and don’t want the black man in the white house. That’s right, I said it, so the hell what! It’s the truth. The tea party is a joke, period! They set the united states back to the jim crow era, and that is a fact. Take our country back. What a crock of BullS#$! !

JDW

February 10th, 2010
10:50 pm

The tea party aficionados need to digest this viewpoint. http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/08/avlon.tea.party.future/index.html

The core issue of fiscal responsibility is spot one, problem is it is hard to take a movement with this many wingnuts seriously. Sure would be nice to have a credible group to propose real solutions to real problems like the deficit, health care, jobs etc….

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:06 pm

And let me say this before someone comes on this blog and starts spewing Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin will never, ever become president of the united states. Even if Pres. Obama doesn’t get elected another term, and another republican gets voted in, you can best believe it won’t be sarah palin. The woman is just not intelligent enough . She is not so called qualified as I have heard many people say on these ajc blogs. Unless you have been president before, then you will not have any experience. None of the past presidents had experience before they were elected into office. So , that “sarah palin is more qualified than obama is pure crap. George bush(sr, and jr), bill clinton, jimmy carter. etc , etc, did not have any presidential experience until they got elected into the white house. That is the truth, period! Sarah Palin has a very long way to go before anyone will take her seriosly. Even if she does run, the majority of america will not vote for her. That includes many blacks, whites , hispanics, asians, etc, etc. Most people with a brain thing of this woman as a joke. She just simply is mot intelligent enough. She is still answering questions, and acting the same wat the she did during the elction. Mccain lost because of sarah palin, and that is a fact.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:09 pm

And let me say this before someone comes on this blog and starts spewing Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin will never, ever become president of the united states. Even if Pres. Obama doesn’t get elected another term, and another republican gets voted in, you can best believe it won’t be sarah palin. The woman is just not intelligent enough . She is not so called qualified as I have heard many people say on these ajc blogs. Unless you have been president before, then you will not have any experience. None of the past presidents had experience before they were elected into office. So , that “sarah palin is more qualified than obama is pure crap. George bush(sr, and jr), bill clinton, jimmy carter. etc , etc, did not have any presidential experience until they got elected into the white house. That is the truth, period! Sarah Palin has a very long way to go before anyone will take her seriously. Even if she does run, the majority of america will not vote for her. That includes many blacks, whites , hispanics, asians, etc, etc. Most people with a brain thing of this woman as a joke. She just simply is not intelligent enough. She is still answering questions, and acting the same way the she did during the election. Mccain lost because of sarah palin, and that is a fact.

Posted this again to correct my typos….

Dusty

February 10th, 2010
11:11 pm

I am not sure about the Tea Pary. I love independence and many of the values they espouse. But I get a little edgy somehow with their tactics. There seems to an element of mob behavior that may overlook that which is still good.

The Republican Party needs to stretch its limits and invite the Tea Party to closer cooperation. (Kyle’s first suggestion for the GOP). A weak third party of conservative leanings will only lead to a stronger Democratic Party. That means further havoc to the country with Obama.

I believe that would be a tragedy for our debt ridden country to elect a blind and reckless spender like Obama. But it would be possible with a third part splitting the vote. Let us tread softly here at the Tea Party.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:22 pm

Dusty, man, where the hell where you during the 8 years of bush? You guys kill me with that big spending crap. It’s a bunch of bull. Look here man. Have you ever thought about why we the mess that we are in?, well, have ya? Look, bush put us into 2 wars(which cost alot of money). The wars alone are enough to make the deficit rise. The economy has been in the tank since 9/11 started. So, where have you been man? Look, people, it took us 8 years to get into this mess, so you best beleive it’s gonna take another 8 years to get out. things don’t come easy man! There are no quick fixes to anything. it’s not like Obama can wave a magic wand and make things better. It takes time man. you guys kill me with that big spending crap! Look, George Bush spend way more than obama did on these 2 wars that he started. I applaud pObama for at least trying some things to get us back on track, and I do realize that it’s gonna take awhile before things improve. constantly bitching about Obama is not gonna change things for any of us. I was always told that if your not part of the solution, then your part of the problem. And people always bitching and complaining is part of the problem. If you didn’t bitch about bush, then don’t bitch about obama! Try to think solutions to todays problems and send them to your local congressman, or even the president himself, and stop your whining. Whining is not appealing. We need more solutions, not more bitching man.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:23 pm

sorry about the typos in my blog entry

Dusty

February 10th, 2010
11:30 pm

Chauncey.

How about making a fourth post and do it without racism? Bigotry, in this case, comes from the eye of the beholder and that is you.

Also, Sarah Palin is not the subject of discussion here. She is not even in a political race at the moment. She must have made a great impression upon you as you seem eager to discuss her. In fact, most liberals want to discuss Sarah Palin. Do you ever wonder why????.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:31 pm

And Dusty, you want to know what is even worse than a big goverment spender? A president that would lead us into a false war and have thousands of our american citizens that served in our military die under false pretenses. There have been thousands of lives that have been lost in both the war in iraq and afghanistan. To me that is way worse that big spending. You can make more money(or even pay it back), but a precious life being taken over a false war is very tragic.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:32 pm

Look dusty. I read these blogs all of the time. I already know that someone will come in here and start talking about sarah palin. So I headed it off beforehand!

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:33 pm

Look here dusty, I can tell you this man, she will never ever become president, so just give it up. It ain’t gonna happen captain!

StJ

February 10th, 2010
11:37 pm

If we were to apply the above logic to past history, then Roosevelt must have started World War II.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:38 pm

And Dusty, as far as impression of sarah palin goes, man, you do not want to hear what I think of sarah palin.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:39 pm

And to anyone wonering why I’m saying what I said about desert shield/storm. I was part of the airforce when that war started, so i know alot about it.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:41 pm

And as far as racism and bigotry goes, I know alot about that one too. I’m african american.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:42 pm

Thus my name… Chauncey!

Dusty

February 10th, 2010
11:44 pm

err chauncey,

What was I doing while Bush was president for eight years? Well, mostly admiring his ability to.uplift this country after 9/11. I also enjoyed the safety of America following that tragedy. Then Bush frightened the terrorists away from our shores while freeing two countries that were prime targets for terrorist centerpieces. You might notice that Obama has followed the policies of
bush in these two countries. You might also notice that Obama continues to raise the deficit of the USA by trillions.

Bush could also make a decision, present ethical candidates for cabinet positions, and draw the support of the Prime Minister of UK, Tony Blair.

So there you have it. And, as the billboard in Minnesata asked: “Do you miss Bush yet?” I surely do miss him.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:48 pm

I don’t miss bush. Tell the crap that you are spewing to my teammates who got layed off under the bush regime. How about hurricane katrina? 9/11? the economy going into the tank? all of this stuff happened during bush’s reign. How soon we forget man!

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:52 pm

Hey dusty, do you remember the budwiser “whassup” commercials? Click on this link and take a look at all of the things that happened during the bush years:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qq8Uc5BFogE

Dusty

February 10th, 2010
11:56 pm

Good night, chauncey. Thanks for your service to this country.

I am a white woman who loves this country. You discredit your race with your indiscriminate rants about racism. Everybody is not a racist just because you think so. Some are and some arn’t and they both come in all colors. Or haven’t you noticed?.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:56 pm

Dusty, everything that happened under bush’s rule(hurricane ktrine, foreclosures, job loses, stock markets crashing) was depicted in that video(with the exception of the 9/11 tragedy). So, what did you say about bush….

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:57 pm

Obama(and even the next president) are cleaning up bush’s crap. So don’t talk to me about bush.

chauncey

February 10th, 2010
11:59 pm

No crap dusty. I did not call you a racist. If you would have read my post correctly, I said tha the “tea party are thinly veiled racist”. So, If that doesn’t apply to you, then don’t worry about it.

chauncey

February 11th, 2010
12:02 am

Look here dusty. I can tell you this. As far as “discrediting my race” goes, I am african american, and not afraid to take on racism(or even talk about the foolishness of racism) head on. I am not afraid. I was taught to love, but I will not bow dow to racism, or any racist movement or party, or people, period! I beleive in calling out racism where it hides. And where does it hide? It hides within the so called tea party.

chauncey

February 11th, 2010
12:17 am

As far as some one calling me a racist or bigot, man forget it! I bring it it becasue I read these blogs all of the time, and they get quite ugly. So what does a person who is not afrad of the racism subject do? Call out racism. Racism to me is like a bully in a high school. I bow down to no man, I call it out, and if you want to rumble(that goes for any racist on this board), then lets rumble! I’m not talking to any body who is not racist. I’m calling out those folks who are racist. The funny thg to me is, that none of the bitching and moaning started until obama got into the white house. I have not seen any movements under bush, so I already know what it is. The truth is(and most of you don’t want to admit it), is that people are not mad at big goverement spending. That is just a front. the trusth is that the tea party is upset that a black man(or biracial man) got elected to the white house. that is the elephant in the room. I just choose to acknowledge the fact. If you are for big government spedning now, then you should have been for big government spending back then, period!

This entire topic, and post, is a big topic in my household. Me and my family talk about this subject all of the time. Most people would rather act like what I’m talking about is a trip, instaed of facing the truth. We as as country have never had the racism talk. We just act like racism never exsisted, or even still exsist. We would rather hide it under the rug instead of tackling it head on and calling it what it is. That is why you see eo much anger directed at obama. It is not becasue he is spending big money(our money). It is becasue the black man was never supposed to be in the white house in the first place. and that is the truth. Any time you see tea partiers and they are hold signs of obama as a witch doctor, with bones on his neck, that has nothing to do with big spending, that is racism, period! and that is the truth. They are thinly veiled racist(klu klux klan without out the roses and hoods, and without the violence).

Dusty

February 11th, 2010
12:19 am

Goodnight, again, Chauncey

I will no longer post comments to you. Obviously, it would be a waste of time. You have developed a very sad state of mind which needs to zero hate upon something or someone. I can’t help you there. If you are so blind to the greatness of this country and the freedom afforded here, you will lose the opportunities that are here for you. Good luck.

chauncey

February 11th, 2010
12:19 am

They are thinly veiled racist(klu klux klan without out the robes and hoods, and without the violence).

Casey

February 11th, 2010
12:22 am

The TEA Party: Changing politics, one idiot at a time.

chauncey

February 11th, 2010
12:26 am

I did’nt say that this country isn’t great. I saying that our country has i’lls , period, and these problems(racism, unemployment, forclosures, etc, etc) need to be acknowldged, discuss, and fixed, so that we all can be better.

chauncey

February 11th, 2010
12:29 am

And hey, by the way dusty, I don’t hate white people becaue not all white people are racist. I have meet some extermely nice white people, here in atlanta(and in diferent cities and counties) I’m talking to the racist folks, not you… If you are not racist, then don’t worry about my post becasue it is not directy towards you. I’m just speaking the truth on some things and saying what really needs to be said.

chauncey

February 11th, 2010
12:30 am

Now that it’s out in the open, and I have gotten some things off my chest, I bid you all a good night. Take care.

Joel Edge

February 11th, 2010
5:36 am

chauncey
Hate much?

Grumpy

February 11th, 2010
5:51 am

1. The crazy people, like the birthers, need to be kicked out

2. The “keep the government away from my Medicare” arm of the tea party crowd needs to be educated that “limited government” likely includes “limited Medicare”

Once the tea party figures that out, I’m on board.

iRun

February 11th, 2010
5:54 am

Uh, *Dusty*?

“I believe that would be a tragedy for our debt ridden country to elect a blind and reckless spender like Obama. But it would be possible with a third part splitting the vote. Let us tread softly here at the Tea Party.”

I hate to break it to you but our debt ridden country DID elect Obama, Not sure where you’ve been but he the current President of the United States. You might not like it. And you might act to try to ensure he’s one-term. But the FACT remains that he actually is the President.

Chauncey – slow down, man! Let people interact with you. So far, you haven’t gotten crazy but you’re excitement is not serving you well. Take a deep breath! Now let it out. Make an effort to engage, not enrage.

OK, off to run to work….

Bitter EX democrackkk

February 11th, 2010
6:36 am

1. Palin is NOT the head of any ‘TEA’ party…she WAS invited to speak to them last weekend.

2. TEA partiers are an offshoot group of independent minded citizens who are mad as hell about where the TWO most EVIL forces have led our country. (democrackkks and republicannots!)

3. I hope that they wont end up being absorbed back into the republicannots. We NEED MORE political parties (so we can be more like Europe, right?) Not just two parties. Demopublicans have RUINED Amerikkka ! ! ! STRIVE to be SMARTER than the demopublican parties of SLAVERY want you to BE ! ! !

Bitter EX democrackkk

February 11th, 2010
6:43 am

WHERE’s the R E A L Birth Certificate? … and ALL the OTHER hidden papers??? WHY would a presidunce need to spend millions guarding his past?

Bitter EX democrackkk

February 11th, 2010
6:48 am

Chauncey, do you think that all the ‘African Americans’ in the TEA movement are racists too? There are plenty of them too, ya know…the ones who’ve gained enlightenment about the party of SLAVERY…

Churchill's MOM

February 11th, 2010
6:56 am

I would love to see the Tea Party mount a challenger to Johnny the Socialist but it isn’t going to happen. The Tea Party we have up here are mainly an anti Obama group and give the Georgia Republican party a pass. If they really wanted to change the USA they would join the Libertarian party. 6 months from now the movement will be gone, lost in the “lessor of evils” RINO Party.

Roadie44

February 11th, 2010
7:20 am

Last year it was Sarah, now it is the Tea Party. If we can’t come up wiht better ideas than this we deserve to be a permanent minority party. The Tea Party are a bunch of shallow people angry about losing some preceived advantage. Tragically there is no loss of advantage but rather the recogniton of rights of others. So we waste time complaining about immigrants when we are all immigrants. We complain about minorities when we are all minorities. We complain about high taxes when we are the least taxed people in any Western democracy. Where is our health plan, our energy plan, our pollution plan. WE just scream Socialism! at every idea we do not like.

dave

February 11th, 2010
7:23 am

Love to see the Black Klux Klan out in force. Why not use facts next time? Katrina was the product of a Democrat governor and a Democrat mayor doing nothing, and then blaming their ineptitude on the President. Where was the escape plan? Where were the buses (under water, that’s where)? Better 8 years of Bush than this Marxist-Leninist nightmare that Obama and the rest of his Brown Shirt/Eco-terrorist thugs are trying to force down our throats.

It’s like this; you Liberals have ridiculed us, called us names, questioned out intellect, persecuted our faith, and tried to run roughshod over us, despite the fact that you’re taking us down the path of destruction. This November, and in November 2012, we will call you a name: Gone.

DAVID: AJC Truth Detector

February 11th, 2010
7:35 am

ARE AVERAGE AMERICANs…………….despised by the phony…elitist Media..MEDIA denegrates ordinary working Americans. Democrats despise ordinary Americans.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 11th, 2010
7:47 am

Dear Mom @ 6:56, why don’t you run? We mostly just want someone, anyone to run against Johnny, to help change his mind about his democrat spending tendencies. My guess is you would not have to spend a dime to get 25% of the repub vote. If people figured out Johnny’s role in the housing bubble, 40%. If the dems don’t have a serious candidate anyway, they may flood into the repub primary. It’s doable for someone who thinks libertarian. I wish your Marine libertarian guy was running in the repub primary.

Keep up the good fight!

February 11th, 2010
8:12 am

When anyone starts spewing that someone is not a credit to their race, that is racist by its nature (I would have used a latin term but it would have gone over the head or the racist). But the Tea Racists with their calls for literacy tests or applauding someone who suggests that only those who spell vote or can say vote in english should be allowed to vote is not only racist, it is unconstitutional. The attacks on Acorn have been racist based as proven when the guy who filmed and provided a heavily edited tape, recorded unlawfully, violated new laws and Fox urged that there should not be a rush to judgment. Look at the comparison in coverage time by Fox News. Where are the tea racists who stand up and rail against the racist signs that protestors standing along side of them? These so-called independent patriots dont voice their objections to those signs and have lost credibility. I wil stand up for anyone’s right to freedom of speech…but along with freedom comes a responsibility to all….those who use their right irresponsibly or with immoral purpose should bear the consequences. The Tea Racists who do not stand up and speak out against the racists like Tancredo (sp?) and others and who cheer at his comments have effectively endorsed them.

And anyone who believes that the Bush “kept us safe” is clearly delusional! 9/11 was on Bush’s watch but somehow is not his responsibilty? Anthrax, the Washington/VA sniper, the underwear bomber? What about the thousands of soldiers put in harm’s way? What about the overseas attacks and embassy attacks? Oh wait, that must be in the fine print disclaimer that you forgot to include in your definition of “kept us safe”. I think if you apply the same test to Obama, Obama has done a better job of keeping us safe that Bush…….and Obama has kept us safe from the likes of Cheney who would throw out the Constitution and the protections that we have fought so hard for.

OneFreeMan

February 11th, 2010
8:25 am

I’m happy for them. Keep up the good work. The republican party should be completely irrelevant by 2012. I love it.

republican = self destruct.

IC Atlanta

February 11th, 2010
8:35 am

Liberal Progressive Statists are so predictable – if they don’t like a movement or politician clearly the hated are racists or stupid. The LPS have your President and have congress results = FAIL.

Your time is up in November. VA, NJ, MA – the rest of America next.

Horrible Horrace

February 11th, 2010
8:38 am

Palin is too polarizing a figure. She needs to remove herself or fade under the radar.

Churchill's MOM

February 11th, 2010
8:38 am

Ragnar,( Raghead fits you so well too bad it is offensive) I have a 8, 10, 40 year old to take care of + I am a woman, why don’t you run.

Didn’t you vote for the “lessor of evils” Saxby the Socialist? I have missed any changes in Saxby’s what’s in it for me style, please point out any votes he has made without lobbyist $’s.

Hope your son is doing well.