I’ve been thinking a lot (actually pondering) about the future of the Tea Party here in Garland County,throughout Arkansas and across America. I have now been the Chairman of the Garland County Tea Party for almost three years. During that time,I have seen many slow but progressive changes in our movement that concern me.
I may be responsible,due to my leadership or lack of,for some of these changes but not the most significant or the majority. Why do I say this? It is because I have seen the same changes happening throughout the other Tea Parties of Arkansas and even nationally.
There has been an overall deterioration in the numbers of people who participate and in our overall enthusiasm level. This has translated into a progressive degree of apathy despite the upcoming election. The Tea Party has barely been involved with or has influenced the 2016 election.
Why has this happened? In my opinion,some reasons may include:
In 2009 when the Tea Party started,the problems were very specific (the stimulus,Obamacare,housing/mortgage industry crisis and collapse,the Great Recession) compared to the recent general,unchanging,chronic problems. In the past,we identified and grabbed hold of each problem and then offered and worked to implement solutions. We no longer are so focused. We speak in generalities rather than specifics.
In the beginning,people came out in great numbers to protest. They were actively involved. They were angry and maybe a little scared at what they perceived to be the deterioration of America and our way of life. Today,fewer and fewer Tea Party people have maintained their level of activism and fewer and fewer people are even available. Some of this may just be due to our original group being seven years older and more tired. Many have dropped out. Their numbers have not been replenished with new members or younger people. Many have just lost interest.
We as a group accomplished much. We made the country aware of many of the problems facing America. We got many of our candidates elected to office. Despite this,little changed. Many of our candidates,once in office,disappointed us and those that didn’t,didn’t seem to be able to effectively affect change for the better. So,why should we expect a new group that we would support would do any better?
Even though the Tea Party movement was country wide,it really never had one national organization with one “charismatic”national leader who spoke for the movement and spoke to the American people. For the most part,good or bad,Tea Party’s remained a local phenomenon or only with statewide influence,not with national power and authority. This led to an increasing lack of enthusiasm. Most people constantly need leaders (local and nationally) who they can follow,trust,look up to,believe in and be motivated by. People also want to be part of what they perceive to be a big and influential movement. With time,the Tea Party lost most of this.
I believe all I’ve just stated is true but it may not be the most important reason for our decline. Maybe the Tea Party now has been eclipsed or even replaced by a new,highly energetic and motivated group,made up of all ages and genders of Americans. And this group includes previous Republicans,Democrats and Independents. This group is more pragmatic about the United States needing change and less focused on being purists for the Constitution while yet being fully for the Constitution,Liberty and Freedom. They just want America fixed. This enormously large group (in the millions) is comprised of those who enthusiastically support Donald Trump. Maybe we should call it the MAGA Movement (the Make America Great Again Movement). For them,he is perceived as the answer to the “swamp”that is the Washington establishment,both Democrat and Republican. They believe he will solve America’s problems with “common sense solutions”rather than politically correct and politically motivated solutions which we’re accustomed to getting. They believe he will “Make America Great Again”because he will return the United States to its roots (minus its errors),to the Rule of Law,to secure borders and to a strong military. He will appoint Supreme Court Justices who will correctly interpret the Constitution. He will be like David who will then slay Goliath.
So,what is the future of the Tea Party? I nor anyone else can really know at this time. I wrote the following to someone last week.
“Actually,in my opinion,the future of our and the countrywide Tea Party will depend on the outcome of the election. If Hillary wins,initially everyone may just give up for a while. If later she is terribly bad,as expected,a new,energized movement may start. If Trump wins then the Tea Party may see its role to keep him conservative and constitutional. Just theorizing.”
No matter who wins on Tuesday,I believe our America will see great change. Only time will tell whether it is for the better or for the worse.
Thankfully,God remains in control.
“FOR TRUTH,JUSTICE AND
THE AMERICAN WAY,”
Chairman,Garland County Tea Party