Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Tea Party Convention Loses Steam

Imagine 2050 Staff • Feb 06, 2010

Day two of the tea party convention can be summed up in two words: confusion and disunity.

The day began at 8:00am when the continental breakfast quickly ran out of coffee - much to the dismay of many sleepy tea partiers. One of the first speakers of the day was the founder of the Memphis Tea Party, Mark Skoda. Skoda’s speech was passionate and rousing, a badly needed pick-me-up after the dreary end to the previous night. Instead of the day continuing on an energizing note, however, it turned to bickering and confusion. The rest of the day was broken into five sets of breakout sessions. The first session I attended was conducted by the Leadership Institute. The session didn’t have an official title but I would call it “facebook and twitter for dummies.”

After that snooze-fest I moved on to “5 easy fixes to the high cost of mass immigration” put on by anti-immigrant group, NumbersUSA. Roy Beck and Tom Tancredo. The presentation about the “dangers of mass immigration” was well received by the crowd, but the Q&A session altered the mood significantly. When someone asked if Roy Beck and NumbersUSA were pro-abortion and sterilization the mood of the crowd changed to nervous murmurs about NumbersUSA’s pro-choice stance.

The final session I attended was by far the most telling about what is going on in the “movement.” The session was a speech by David DeGerolamo the founder of NC Freedom a tea party umbrella group in North Carolina. DeGerolamo’s speech was soon interrupted by members in the crowd who vented their frustrations about how the movement was divided and little could be done to help it. People voiced their anger about each session and meal not starting with a prayer, something that has clearly disturbed and isolated many attendees. DeGerolamo begrudgingly agreed with the crowd, stating that he was disappointed at the event’s lack of accomplishment and unity.

For me, many of the breakout sessions were fillers that took up time and taught little. After all of the high profile pullouts, it was clear that the Phillips family and other organizers had no “plan B” which resulted in at least four of the sessions turning into technology classes for the mainly internet-illiterate crowd. Mark Skoda, a man who clearly likes to hear the sound of his own voice, seemed to luck out from the pullouts, scoring two breakout sessions back to back. Another obvious “filler” session was an Emergency Preparedness session sponsored by Bass Pro Shops. The crowd was told many important survival tips, such as “cotton balls make good kindling” and “you’ll need a percolator if you wanna make coffee.” Someone in the audience chimed in (I’m not joking here) to say that if you put your cell phone in a microwave, it will protect it from electromagnegitic pulse damage.

The night ended with a speech by Angela McGlowan, only the second African American I have seen during two days at the convention. McGlowan announced that she is planning to run for one of Mississippi’s house seats which brought the crowd to its feet.

As I left the second day of the event, I saw a movement that is going nowhere. I witnessed workshops teaching fifty-somethings about using the internet, sessions where the crowd took over with their complaints, and a complete lack of diversity and unity. Many of the people I talked to today had no idea who the leading tea party organizers or groups were around the country, let alone at the convention. The sense of optimism that was present at Tom Tancredo’s speech last night has definitely diminished. It remains to be seen if Sarah Palin can pull something out of the bag tomorrow, and even if she can, it will be tough to demonstrate that this event was a success.

Imagine 2050 Newsletter

  • translate

    English • Afrikaans • العربية • Беларуская • Български • Català • Česky • Cymraeg • Dansk • Deutsch • Eesti • Ελληνικά • Español • فارسی • Français • Gaeilge • Galego • हिन्दी • Hrvatski • Bahasa Indonesia • Íslenska • Italiano • עברית • Latviešu • Lietuvių • 한국어 • Magyar • Македонски • മലയാളം • Malti • Nederlands • 日本語 • Norsk (Bokmål) • Polski • Português • Română • Русский • Slovenčina • Slovenščina • Shqip • Srpski • Suomi • Svenska • Kiswahili • ไทย • Tagalog • Türkçe • Українська • Tiếng Việt • ייִדיש. • 中文 / 漢語