Posts Tagged ‘movement’

Reading the Tea Party Leaves

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:56 am March 23rd, 2010 has an interesting piece up on the Tea Party movement.

The Sam Adams Alliance, a Chicago-based non-profit group advancing free-market principles, conducted interviews with dozens of leaders in the grassroots movement to see what inspired their participation.

The results surprised even Anne Sorock, who was with the group when it began sponsoring protests last year.

Bill McMorris, a writer with the Franklin Center, spoke to Anne Sorock and did an in depth analysis of their findings.

The “Tea Party” Name: An Affront to History or Branding Genius?

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:01 pm March 17th, 2010

I have a friend who is perpetually disdainful of and indignant at the use of the Tea Party name for the present day Tea Party movement in America.  He points out that their tax beefs are not comparable to that of eighteenth-century Bostonians and says he finds the premise of the Tea Party movement an affront to those they are named for, illustrated by this recent sarcastic quip:

Oh, the thrill to be a part of history. Paul Revere and Patrick Henry have nothing on Sarah Palin and Victoria Jackson.

The attitude reflects that of many on the left and to some degree, I get it.  Obama is not George III but a duly and legitimately elected president.  Love him or hate him, he isn’t a monarch-tyrant and anything he achieves – including raising our taxes – is done with the full legal authority of the U.S. Constitution.  And, unlike a king, he can be voted out in 2012 if people don’t like his policies.

But I fully understand why the modern-day anti-tax movement originators chose the Tea Party name, beyond attempting to reach back to the iconic we’re-Taxed-Enough-Already spirit of that original Event.  Quite simply, it’s pretty smart branding.

Present-day Tea Partyers are preceded by others who also found it useful to invoke the Tea Party name.  Gandhi did so in 1908 by referencing the Boston Tea Party in speeches and carrying around duty-free salt as a symbol.  And in 1973, people who wanted to impeach Nixon and were upset about the oil crisis dumped empty oil drums into Boston Harbor (and hanged Tricky Dick in effigy, which was a nice touch).  In 2006, a libertarian party calling themselves the “Boston Tea Party” was founded, and in 2007 Ron Paul did a “Tea Party” money-bomb on the anniversary of the Event and broke a record by raising $6M in 24 hours.

I surmise that it was probably Ron Paul’s money raising success which to some degree inspired and motivated the conservative-libertarian grassroots guys to choose the Tea Party name to brand their effort.  And can you blame them?  Politics is about messaging and branding as a means to wielding power, money and prestige.  Politicos are tasked with finding what works: what inspires, motivates and moves money (and votes).

Even though the Tea Party movement cannot claim that we, like the Boston Tea Party activists, are being taxed without representation, if Tea Party groups can gain members and raise millions for the 2o1o and 2012 campaigns and then show up in droves at the polls and change the political (and ideological) make-up of state legislatures and the halls Congress, the branding will have been a smashing success.