What Are Tea Parties? They are Not a Political Party; Tea Parties are Grass Roots Lobbying Groups

Tea Parties Embody the Essence of "We the People"

The Republican Party is wringing their hands worry about whether the Tea Party will morph into a third-party or take over the Republican Party and kick out the elites in the National and State Committees.  The Democrat Party is hoping the Tea Parties form their own political party. 

They are both misinterpreting what the Tea Party Movement really is today.

The Tea Parties are the embodiment of what the founders intended in the First Amendment’s “Right to Petition” and are basically LOBBYIST.  (Lobbyist is not a “four letter” naughty word)

The founding fathers made sure citizens could approach their government and present their “petitions” to redress their concerns to the government in the First Amendment. 

The definition of lobbying that has evolved is:  “Lobbying is a form of advocacy with the intention of influencing decisions made by legislators and officials in the government by individuals, other legislators, constituents, or advocacy groups”1

You often think of sleazy people smoking stinky cigars and offering congressman and other government officials free trips to the Caribbean in exchange for their vote.  The word lobbyist is generally applied to professional lobbying organizations found on “K” street in Washington DC and at our State Capitals but the amendment covers all individuals, groups, and corporations.  Originally the Amendment was applied specifically to the Federal Government but has been expanded to include all political subdivisions of States including cities.

               When you look at the anatomy of the Tea Party Movement you will note that there is not a single entity that is the “Tea Party”.  Tea Parties today are groups of diverse individuals who have banded together under a common set of goals for the government, Federal, State or Local.  There are no rules for joining a particular local or even national “Tea Party” group so the groups are truly the definition of “grass roots” movements.  I belong to two different local Tea Parties but do not belong to any national Tea Party organizations.  I could belong to a national group and not the local groups. 

               The lobbying (petitioning advocate) nature of Tea Parties is where their strength lies.  They will be able to change as the country changes and ebb and flow as needed.  If the government goes back to low taxes, balanced budgets, controlled (no earmark) spending, support for free enterprise, personal freedoms, and limited government, the Tea Parties may dissipate or they may shift focus to international, social or other issues that a sufficient number of citizens feel need to be addressed.  I believe that the “Genie is out of the Bottle” and that the concept of the Tea Party Movement is here to stay for a good while. 

               The Tea Parties were able to be formed and attract National attention due to modern-day, 24-7, instant communications.  Without this capability, the potential for reaching out and solidifying roughly 1/3 of the American voters would have been difficult if not impossible.  As soon as Congress or the President do anything, the entire movement is aware of the action and its impact with 24 hours.  The evolution of real-time communication is at its embryonic stage and unless the Government steps in and curtails some of its capabilities, this tool will continue to grow in functionality and outreach.

               James Madison proposed ten amendments to the Constitution in 1789 and they now make up what we refer to as our Constitutional Bill of Rights.  It is interesting and noteworthy that the First Amendment appropriately includes Freedom of Speech and the Right to Petition.  It is interesting because if the Tea Party movement really is a form of Lobbying which was established in the First Amendment’s Right to Petition, then the single largest threat to this Right is any abridgement to the Right of Free Speech.  The abridgement could come in the form of a FCC or Homeland Security regulation controlling Internet content; how text messaging is regulated; access to specific sites around the world, etc.  Think of China and how they restrict the free flow of information by controlling the Internet and wireless communications.  The regulations could easily be put in place under existing laws and regulations such as the Patriot Act, Obamacare, Consumer Finance Protection Act, and so many more that may have sounded like good ideas when you first heard the sound bites. 

Thomas Jefferson said that “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. 

The Tea Parties are able to maintain that vigilance using today’s modern communications backbone. 

We just need to make sure our liberties are not obliterated by our own Government…

 

RD Pierini

 1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying_firm

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