The destruction of the Tea Party movement

An infuriatingly detailed article in Politico Magazine shows how greedy political activists drained the Tea Party movement’s resources, largely to enrich themselves.  Here’s an excerpt.

As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.

What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.”

. . .

Today, the Tea Party movement is dead, and Trump has co-opted the remnants. What was left of the Tea Party split for a while between Trump and, while he was still in the race, Ted Cruz, who was backed by Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. In 2014, the Tea Party Patriots group spent just 10 percent of the $14.4 million it collected actually supporting candidates, with the rest going to consultants and vendors and Martin’s hefty salary of $15,000 per month; in all, she makes an estimated $450,000 a year from her Tea Party-related ventures. Today, of course, it’s all about Trump, but Trump rallies are only Trump rallies, not Tea Party rallies that he assumed control of. There are no more Tea Party rallies.

. . .

By sapping the Tea Party’s resources and energy, the PACs thwarted any hope of building the movement. Every dollar swallowed up in PAC overhead or vendor fees was a dollar that did not go to federal Tea Party candidates in crucial primaries or general elections. This allowed the GOP to easily defeat or ignore them (with some rare exceptions). Second, the PACs drained money especially from local Tea Party groups, some of which were actively trying to grow the movement electorally from the ground up, at the school board and city council level. Lacking results five years on, interest in the movement waned—all that was left were the PACs and their lists.

There’s more at the link.

This is precisely why the establishment and its minions are completely untrustworthy.  It, and they, will do anything in their power to manipulate, control and direct ‘insurgent’ political movements, in the process aligning them with their own objectives and dissipating their energy and resources before they can threaten their own goals.  The individuals and political action committees who came to dominate the Tea Party movement are classic political ‘insiders’, ready and eager to seize the reins of any movement that looks likely to threaten their dominance – and enrich themselves in the process.

Whether or not Mr. Trump is a worthy candidate for President, let’s hope and pray that his insurgent campaign can avoid the same trap.



  1. I knew people who were involved in the earliest years of the civil rights and even anti-war movements. According to those people they were, to a large degree, young professionals or young budding professionals. Eventually, the movement was co-opted and many of the people from the earlieat years dropped out. The same has happened to the Tea Party. Those in power are disinclined to tolerate any movwnt that is a threat to their power or goals. If people are not careful, this is what happens to all movements that can make any real claim to being a grassroots alternative and that offer a viable alternative to the status quo.

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