Monday, November 15, 2010

Tea in 2012

With the mission of taking over the House accomplished, the movement is now at a crossroads, and where it goes next is a matter of crucial importance for the Right. One option is closer cooperation with (and what cynics might call co-option by) the Republican-party structure. Given that Karl Rove’s “72-hour turnout plan” (an RNC-run effort to canvass neighborhoods and call voters that was first deployed on a massive scale in 2004) essentially did not take place this election cycle, the movement’s organizational muscle (not to mention the hearts and minds of its activist base) will be especially important to the party. It’s unclear who would be the majority shareholder if the Republican party and the Tea Party merged. Yet deeper integration is unlikely to outlive this political moment. Just as the grassroots organization built during President Bush’s winning 2000 and 2004 campaigns did not outlive his presidency (or even, in fact, persist much beyond those campaigns), President Obama struggled mightily to conjure up the enthusiasm of his 2008 bid in this year’s listless campaign, limiting his stops to inner cities and liberal college towns. After the 2008 election, the vaunted “Obama movement” mostly fizzled out: It was moved in-house to the Democratic National Committee and given the moniker “Organizing for America.” Campaign-related activity on “MyBO,” OFA’s Web-based organizing hub, was down as much as 90 percent from 2008 as activists recoiled at the shift from the frenetic energy of a campaign to White House command and control. The experience should provide a cautionary tale to the Tea Partiers, with their more humble origins: Hitch yourself to established power institutions at your own peril...more

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