Is it the best of times or the worst of times for America’s Tea Party movement?
The answer may emerge in the next couple of weeks. A pair of Tea-Party-events-in-the-making suggest the movement, which has channeled much of the conservative opposition to President Barack Obama’s agenda, has reached a fork in the road.
It made headlines last summer as “Tea Party” rallies – evoking a famous protest in Boston against British rule in 1773 — were held across the country in opposition to bank bail-outs, Obama’s attempted healthcare overhaul, and other aspects of the White House agenda.
This weekend one offshoot of the movement is holding a conference in Dallas/Fort Worth called “Leadership Tea Party.” It is a low-key, nuts-and-bolts affair that is focused on the practical side of political training and winning elections. Sessions include: “Tea Parties: Legal Overview for Structures and Fundraising,” and “Victory in a Box.” The latter is about how to get out the vote in primary and general elections.
Richard Viguerie, a leading conservative figure and writer, will give the keynote address on Friday night. Among other things he is seen as a pioneer of get-0ut-the-vote tactics such as ”political direct mail.” The conference is being put on by a group called the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition.