|A t-shirt I picked up at the America's Tea Party rally held July 4, 2009 at Southfork Ranch. |
It still hangs in my garage as a reminder of how bad things can get if we do not remain vigilant.
Have we witnessed a crash and burn demise of the tea parties,
or is there something better on the horizon?
In my mind, tea parties no longer exist. They started with the camaraderie of rallies to solidify identity, moved into a more stoic educational and informational realm, and have ended up as tools to advance new media efforts.
We can clearly identify this effect in the presidential campaign and election, where the carpet was swept right out from under that stale, old-school media's feet. Formal newspapers and broadcast media were made redundant, and people were no longer buying the bag 'o crap they were selling.
The publics became the new media machine, and made their digital point through relentless use of videos, blogs and social media activity. They took their first amendment rights away from those designated to inform and speak on their behalf, because traditional media outlets were doing a piss-poor job of it for far too long.
For organizations that vow to be unbiased, fair and balanced, they have been anything but for a decade, or longer. It's not just the journalists' fault in reporting one side of a story. This problem goes much deeper, where editors purposely leave out coverage and the liberal checkbooks were flexing their muscles. The bias wasn't so much about what was being covered, as it was about what wasn't being covered. It's still media bias.
Non-stop televised news may currently have a lion's share of the older generation's viewing habits, but the millennials? Forget it. I cannot wait to see the slow and painful death of 24/7 country club talk shows over the next twenty years. It won't be too soon. Still, I predict that these news outlets will morph into ugly advertising machines, dominating our news feeds without proper representation and attempting to make themselves relevant again. We must not let that happen. We must remain vigilant.
This problem of taxation without proper representation by the media was identified when the various tea parties formed, and carried a shared battle cry. What was heard across the nation was a sort of Marine Corps Ooh Rah that sounded faintly like, "Tax this, sucka."
People from all walks of life came together, despite constant vilification by rabid politicians who were afraid their slop trough would be emptied. People like Sen. John McCain and his "wacko birds" comment and President Barack Obama's disgusting "teabagger" epithet tried their best to discredit the movement. Innocent people were labeled racist, and just about every "phobe" in the book. But, you know what they say about sticks and stones.
The various tea parties had one strong element that tied them all together. That theme consisted of five core principles, which any constitutional conservative still clutches to their bosom. The principles didn't change just because Trump became our only tool against Clinton. The tenets include personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility, limited government, rule of law and national sovereignty, and anyone that has dismissed any part of those core principles during this election was not a constitutional conservative to begin with. Rather, they are a confused Republican, angry and reactive voters or simply something else altogether. They were tea party posers.
I've watched the tea parties unilaterally disconnect under the guise of being separate anyway. Many tea party leaders are looking for ways to disassociate themselves with their past, in an attempt to impart their own brand. They dismissed the idea that all tea parties across the county were part of one larger movement so they could justify Donald Trump and his new product of angry, vitriolic populism. Their tea party premise is a bastardization, bordering on dissociative disorder, of the original tea party intent.
I suppose divorcing oneself from the tea party makes them feel better about compromising once-quasi-shared principles, but there are still those pesky five core principles that made the scattered tea parties one and the same. These are the very same principles that Trump was never a part of, that is, until he decided he wanted to become president.
Suddenly, Trump has become magically delicious to hosts of former tea party members, who claim he is the ultimate alpha and omega, right behind Jesus. Please. Though Trump has donned his designer-fitted chameleon suit, he is no more tea party than Clinton was. The fantastic thing is that we have a host of video and sound clips showing what pre-campaign Trump was really about. But when you're branding, none of that matters. You latch onto anything that fits the perspective you're selling.
I will give Trump the benefit of the doubt despite this strong anti-constitutional conservative evidence. I will, because what choice do I have? Having dozens sign up to run in the GOP, so they can open super PACs and pay themselves handsomely on the speech circuit, while continuing to collect funds for a future run, did our real choices in. We were left with a really bad taste in our mouths. But for those legacy tea partiers who carried Trump's flag, stepping on, punching and kicking those around them the entire way, their recollection of why the tea parties formed has been replaced with an altered reality.
The tea parties are no longer relevant, not because Trump was elected, no far from that. The tea parties are no longer relevant because there has become a new, tech-savvy audience established, and this is how we fight fire with fire. We must be careful that the new media that brought about a Trump win, doesn't become like that of the old mainstream.
Provocateur Andrew Breitbart was a visionary on new media when he said, "My mission isn’t to quash debate—it’s to show that the mainstream media aren’t mainstream, that their feigned objectivity isn’t objective, and that open, rigorous debate is a positive good in our society.”