The Tea Party Phenomenon

The Tea Party I attended had folks from every walk of life but it
seemed that they had a lot more in common than they expected. They all
had experienced frustration in trying to communicate about their
concerns and they hadn't expected to find so many people who were in
the same situation.

Most people found out about the Rocky Mount
event on the Internet, others through emails. I was not planning to
attend because I am not much of a joiner, but I felt that there was
something here that I needed to know about and experience directly.

I
found a lot of people very much like myself. They seemed to be
self-motivated, concerned about their families, and willing to work
hard to achieve a better life. Many were self-employed although a large
number were old enough to be on Social Security.

This was not a
networking event with people looking for contacts and swapping business
cards. The people were cautiously friendly as most had never been to
this kind of protest event before.

There was no shouting and reckless
behavior, more of a continuing surprise as we all discovered that we
were a community of like-minded souls who wanted positive change that
we could believe in, not empty promises and double-talk.

Tea Parties are self-structuring social organizations of indeterminate lifespan and relatively incoherent purposes. I believe that this is about to change and the Tea Parties will evolve into a serious effort to wrest back control of government from those in both parties who are abusing public trust. They have already morphed from generalized protest meetings toward more specifically targeted activities.

They have already stepped up their self-organizing to deal with attempts by Progressives to disrupt things. The attacks by left-leaning media have helped shape and toughen up the Tea Party efforts. Read any of the Tea Party websites and you will see warnings about signing petitions and how to deal with disruptive activities and biased reporters.

When people attend one of these Tea Parties and then see what the media has reported about the event, the media spin becomes evident and people are turning to the Internet for news they can use.

I think we will see various individuals and groups attempt to
get out in front of the Tea Parties and claim that they are leading
them. I do not think that will fly. Anyone who hopes to contribute to
the Tea Party movement is going to have to participate in events and
really learn what people are upset about and what can be done to
improve conditions.

Tea Party leadership will grow out of
successful actions by charismatic figures who can lead. I do not see
this movement giving much credence to high level political figures who
hope to hop on the Tea Party train as it picks up speed.

The
birth of the Tea Party movement may have been triggered by CNBC's Rick
Santelli calling for a "Chicago Tea Party" back in February, but the
movement's continued existence is due to the recognition by many people
that serious mistakes are being made by elected officials who are not
being responsive to the voters who elected them.

People who
thought they were the only ones noticing the insane behavior of elected
officials suddenly found out that they were not alone. They gathered
with hundreds of other citizens in their own area and found reassurance
that others recognized corrupt and incomprehensible actions in the
Federal Government.

They shared experiences and found that many
others agreeing that our leftward lurch toward Socialism is not good
for children or businesses or our future existence.

When you
think that you are the only one refusing to drink the poisoned
Kool-Aid, life becomes pretty hopeless. When you find out that others
have avoided the Kool-Aid too, you find that there is a real hope that
things just might get better.

I think we are just in the beginning of a change in political activity at the grassroots level. As people get used to using emails and Twitter to communicate about Tea Parties, the pace will pick up and the Tea Party movement will really begin to have an impact on our elected officials.

The first step was to recognize that we are a group with some common interests. The next step will be to align our interests in a way that maximizes our chances of impinging on society and our elected officials.

There will be a lot more steps following these and resistance from elected officials and opposition groups will only solidify the resolve of the Tea Party patriots. Efforts to dismiss or radicalize Tea Party protests will backfire and may cost incumbents seats in the next election. I do not feel that the Tea Party movement will go away. It has already gone viral.

The term "smart mob" is a good description of the Tea Party phenomenon.

According to Wikipedia: A smart mob is a form of self-structuring social organization through technology-mediated, intelligent emergent behavior. The concept was introduced by Howard Rheingold in his book Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. According to Rheingold, smart mobs are an indication of the evolving communication technologies that will empower the people.
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