Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Your Dainty Little Tea Parties Will Fail

Pop quiz: what was the largest protest/rally/demonstration in American history?

Dr. King's March on Washington? No.

Million Man March? Nope.

The protests in New York before the Invasion of Iraq? O-3.

The answer, believe it or not, was an event called the March for Women's Lives. Doesn't ring a bell? Well, it did take place a long time ago -- all the way back in 2004. Still drawing a blank? Don't worry, because like everyone who wasn't there, no one gave a damn.

I bring this up because there appears to be a great number of Tea Partiers who are anticipating the cold shoulder from the dreaded "MSM." I can already hear all the whining that will take place on the 16th. "Why weren't we on the news?" and "The Liberal media didn't want the public to see what a huge movement this is!" or "The MSM just wants to keep pumping the masses full of Obamamania!" and a million other such sentiments.

Let me just preemptively ask you all to spare us the melodramatic outrage.

The tea parties will fail. They will fail because they suck. How do I know they suck without them actually having occurred yet? Simple: because right now they are a disorganized mess that are reminiscent of the World Bank/IMF protests that occurred in the late 1990s or even the recent G20 protests in London (minus the violence, of course).

Check out this handy little video from the London Independent on the elements of protesting [via FP]. Yes, the narrator's name is Phil Collins, but don't hold that against him. Go through the narrator's check list of what characteristics make a good demonstration and see how many fit the Tea Parties. Let's go through them, shall we:
  • 1.) Very Clear Purpose
Can anyone explain to me what these Tea Parties are about in ten words or less? Is it the bail out? The Stimulus package? Unemployment? The budget? Pork barrell spending? Earmarks? Taxes in general? Socialism? Government spending in General? Wealth redistribution? ACORN? Some crazy ass conspiracy to subjugate the American people? Random, meaningless numbers? (All of those pictures came from just one earlier Tea Party, by the way.)

Pick one and stick with it, otherwise it's just a cacophony of competing voices trying to yell over each other resulting in just senseless noise. You can't protest "taxes" or "spending" or "borrowing" in general -- these are just ways of life. You can protest a specific tax or specific act of borrowing and/or spending. But that's not what's going on here. It's a messaging nightmare.

If you want to know what this looks like at it's worse go to YouTube and check out those awful World Bank/IMF protests. They're ridiculous, embarrassing affairs. Every aging radical, wanna-be hippie and sucker for activist chic went crawling to those disasters and the result was the Free Mumia people yelling over the Fulan Gong folks who were trying to get in on the fair trade folks and on and on and on. These grassroots tea partiers are getting perilously close to point of no return.
  • 2.) The Protest Demonstrates the Impotency of the Protesters as Much as their Potency (as it were ... hey, Collins' words, not mine)
Except in the case of the tea parties, it doesn't. No one's being denied their due process here -- and to make matters worse, the Tea Partiers actually had an opportunity to enact many of the reforms they are calling for during the course of 6 of the last 8 years. They couldn't get it done. Far from being shut out from power, Tea Partiers were actually in control until recently. That's not injustice, it's sour grapes.
  • 3.) Gives Voice to Something that's Already there in the Popular Feeling
That's hard to do when you have a dozen different messages competing for attention. Making matters worse, a majority of Americans support Obama's handling of the economy. The tea parties are expressing a minority view at best, and a fringe view at worse.
  • 4.) Protests in Democracies Effectively Demonstrate a Fundamental Flaw in that Democracy in so much as the Protesters are Excluded from the Normal Channels of Representation
See #2. Tea Partiers had their chance 6 months ago and couldn't get it done. That's no reason to cry over spilled milk.

I used to be a bit envious of conservatives because it seemed like they never had to protest anything. They either always got their way or understood that public demonstrations are the product of a by-gone era. Most liberals still don't get this (I'm convinced that has a lot to do with aging flower children who have a nostalgic desire to relive the glory days of the 1960s).

These days "events" like the tea parties are high risk and low reward propositions. What if only a handful of people show up? What if things get ugly? Oh, and by the way, what will be on the evening news later in the week? It's an awful lot of work and coordination for 90 seconds on the 6:00 news and an article in the local paper the next day. (I assume that all the whining about getting the cold shoulder from the "MSM" is what's supposed to keep the momentum going after the event, right?)

It's hilarious to watch conservatives suddenly discover the pitchforks and torches (or placards and banners) with such heedless abandon because their current trajectory will lead them inevitably toward the formation of the Right's version of the single most obnoxious political "organization" in the world: Code Pink.

CP is the gold standard of how not to make a political statement. It's impossible to watch any of their "actions" (or whatever you want to call them, I have numerous other words that could be used) without cringing. I like to think that that cringe comes from a deeper truth that the observer is aware of: that the protesters really aren't doing anything productive to change society, but are rather just looking to make themselves feel like they're doing something good. That's what they Tea Partiers will be doing next week, I just hope we don't have to hear about how "awesome" their little gatherings were for the next few weeks.

5 comments:

Cindy Kilkenny said...

Hey sunshine, just wanted to let you know that your opinion doesn't matter much. They're going to find like minded folks. It will be enough for now.

Funny how liberal protests are sooo important but anything on the right is destined to fail! Hey, at least there will be the thrill of releasing a little CO2 on the way.

Jb said...

Cindy, Cindy, Cindy ... I know 1000+ words are a lot to read on a Friday afternoon, but do try to read all of them before you say something as silly as "Funny how liberal protests are sooo important but anything on the right is destined to fail!"

If you would have read all of the post you might have picked up on the fact that I ridiculed no less than 4 ("four") "lefty" protests from days gone by -- the abortion thing, the IMF stuff, the G20 bullshit, the re-occurring scourge of the asinine Code Pink, etc.

You missed the point. All protests suck. It doesn't matter who sponsors them, they all suck.

Have fun "changing the world" on April 15th. I'll look forward to not reading about it in the paper the next day. I'm sure you all will have tos of fun!

Blanca DeBree said...

Well, I for one, am all in support of the Tea Baggers. They are performing a vital function, letting everyone in the country know how much Republicans love tea bagging. I just can't wait to see the signs and all the smiling faces from the Freepers out there offering to tea bag. And it really says something about family values to see a father and mother together with their children at these protests. It brings a special tear to my eye to see a young boy or girl offer to tea bag an aging Senator or Representative.

Tea bagging basically sums up the values of the Republican Party, and explains why I am a proud Republican.

CJ said...

Blanca (I mean Ms. Tea Bagger),
You're going hell.... ;o) I'll save you a seat.

(Nice parody- I did "get it". They really need to come up with a more family friendly term.
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As far as all these protesters go--- where were they four years ago, when things were really starting to go to hell.

grumps said...

If they're going to be teabagging they need to remember to breathe through their nose.