Monday, February 8, 2010

Tea Party Plots Its Next Move

Tea Party activists gathered in Tennessee this weekend grappled with a central question looming over the burgeoning political movement: Where does it go from here? Organizers here seek to shift the focus from staging political rallies to winning elections. "The Tea Party movement is growing up," said Judson Phillips, a Nashville-based criminal-defense lawyer who organized the National Tea Party Convention. "If 2010 is another year of rallies, we've lost." Building a coherent movement won't be easy. The Tea Party activism that sprang up last year remains a loosely organized concept, held together by the broad beliefs that politicians in both parties are out of touch, that fiscal responsibility has run amok and that the public view of America has dimmed. But the movement—guided by thousands of independent and conservative activists who organize mainly through online social-networking sites—is prone to infighting over its leadership and ties to the Republican Party. There are also tensions between those who think the Tea Partiers should remain a grassroots organization, and those willing to partner with more-established groups who can offer guidance on how to organize and run more

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