Just a party, or a movement?

Posted: Friday, February 12, 2010

So, what are we to make of the gathering last week called the Tea Party Convention in Nashville?

What began last year as a semi-coordinated series of protests in various town halls across the country has apparently become a political force to be reckoned with. Grass roots opposition to big government culminated in a raucous gathering featuring Alaska's own Sarah Palin declaring to an adoring crowd: "America is ready for another revolution!"

We're not quite sure we agree on the revolution part. But we don't doubt for a minute the commitment and passion emanating from this most current wrinkle in U.S. political history.

Our only question: Is it the real deal?

A person doesn't have enough fingers and toes to count all the special interest political movements or parties that have come and gone in the United States, starting with the AntiMasonic Party in the 1820s. Anyone remember Ross Perot's Reform Party? How about George Wallace's American Independent Party; or Ralph Nader's Green Party?

You can do a simple Internet search and see dozens more that still exist, including our own Alaskan Independence and Libertarian parties.

What binds the Tea Party folks together is a shared anger and frustration, a general sense that they feel the country is going the wrong direction. Taxes are too high. Government sticks its unwanted nose into our business. Politicians aren't listening to the people.

Haven't we all felt at least a little bit of that same frustration as some point in our lives? Indeed, it sounds very Alaskan.

But after venting that frustration, the second question always comes - What do we do about it? Can we come together and agree on solutions?

The Tea Party phenomenon has reached the "What do we do about it" stage in its existence. Not surprisingly, there is not much consensus. In fact, there's not even a consensus among self-proclaimed Tea Party activists on exactly what they are. Hmm, also sounds very Alaskan, doesn't it?

Perhaps that's why Palin was the perfect person to give the group's keynote speech, delivering a broadly defined message so simple it fits in the palm of your hand.

What do you think? Is the Tea Party destined for longevity? Will it join the long and oftentimes entertaining list of political flashes in the pan? Is the movement even real, or is it the inadvertent creation of news media in the pursuit of a story?

We really aren't sure ourselves. What do you think?

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