Monday, May 17, 2010

You Can Dismiss Tea Partiers As Crazy, But You Cannot Dismiss Their Number

Recently I attended an Organizing for America strategy session. I came away underwhelmed from the experience, though it is always nice to see people mobilizing for a cause they believe in, whatever that might be.

Before the session started, an older gentleman in attendance dismissed the number of tea-partiers around the nation, saying that viewers and readers get an overinflated sense of how many tea-partiers there are because it is in the news media's interest to create controversies where none exist. An older woman immediately offered her support for the gentleman's theory. Perhaps. But, if they have been paying attention, about one week later Sen. Bennett (R-UT), an incumbent once considered a safe bet for re-election in November, was ousted by Republican voters in one of the most shocking results of this primary season. He finished third during the recent Utah Republican convention, failing to earn a place on the ballot for the upcoming Utah Republican primaries. In interview with NPR, Sen. Bennett said that "[t]he normal turnout for caucuses in Utah is between 25 and 35,000. This time we had 75,000, and [activists in the Tea Party movement] swamped all of the normal kinds of political structures." You do the math.

Add to that the news that Rand Paul (yes, Ron Paul's son, who is a fan of Ayn Rand, though he denies that his nickname is due to his fondness for the works of the Objectivist philosopher) is all but sure to kick his Republican opponent's butt in the Kentucky Republican primary, in spite of (or perhaps precisely because of) his wacky and less than commendable ideas, like repealing the American with Disabilities Act.

I am no pundit, so I don't know if the rise of the Tea Party will ultimately spell success or defeat for Conservatives in November, but while criticizing the logic and foundation of tea-partiers is fair game, as well as an exercise of civic responsibility, dismissing their numbers as inflated may be foolish.

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