My relationship with the various Tea parties in Kentucky has been interesting, to say the least.
I'm an active member with the Tea Party in Campbell County (because Pendleton doesn't have one yet), and many political and personal allies are involved in the various Tea organizations in Northern Kentucky.
I've also attended a number of events of other Tea Parties. I've participated in some way at 3 or 4 Tea events in Louisville, and one in Lexington, as well.
I've also publicly beat up some of the Tea Parties when they go too far astray (in my opinion).
Those who aren't involved with Tea Parties don't get it. Many people don't understand the Tea Party. Some inside the Tea Parties might not even get it.
The media seemingly can't wrap it's head around it. And there are a few reasons for that.
- The media doesn't like more than two sides
- Multiple types of Tea Parties
- The media is progressive
The Tea Party breaks out of the mold of Republican vs. Democrat. I can tell you from personal experience, that many in the media don't like that very much. They like their "two sides" approach to reporting. I'm not sure if it's just natural for reporters to try to present just two sides, or if they're trained that way; but in either case, they don't like a third side to any story.
Without going into detail on why I found out about it, a story from Des Moines, Iowa explained this phenomenon pretty well.
One group started because:
"God is the giver of our rights. Natural law is the giver of our rights. The government is just supposed to maintain freedom. That's not what's happening anymore. You can't take freedom away from people and not expect an uprising."
By contrast, the organizer of the other group claimed:
...his gathering will focus more on taxes... it won't address issues like morality and the constitutional role of government. And he said tea will be represented at this tea party.
And there are more-still variants on Tea, and other groups that are blending as well.
Generally, the media leans left. Even those who lean right in the media are "right-progressive", like John McCain.
So when the paleo-conservatives and libertarians join forces, these people are just at a complete loss.
So with the media unable or unwillingly to really assess the Tea party movement, and its various flavors, it's no wonder there's a lot of confusion in this area.
That said, I believe that it's more important to stick to what you're doing, than to change and conform to what the media wants you to be. Define yourself through your actions; don't let the media define you.
Here in Kentucky, we have multiple types of Tea Parties. In some cases, there has been an effort to blend these different approaches into single organizations, and it has led to a bit of internal chaos.
There's also been some blending of Tea Parties with the Glenn Beck 9/12 Project and the Campaign for Liberty. I don't think it's a bad thing for all of these groups to talk; we all need to work together, where we can.
When I go to a Tea Party meeting, I'm just a member of the Tea Party. If something LP-related happens to come up (and it did, once) I will answer the question. But, I don't mix the Tea Party with the Libertarian Party, and I strongly advise against mixing any of these groups together.
Here's my basic assessment of the focus of the Tea Parties with which I'm familiar, and if the leaders of these groups want to contest that labeling, that's fine. This is only my observation of the focus of each group:
Northern Kentucky Tea Party - Taxes, Regulations, Constitution
Boone County Grassroots Tea Party - Taxes, Regulations, Constitution
Lexington Tea Party - God, Constitution, Pro-Republican
Louisville Grassroots Tea Party - Taxes, Constitution, Pro-Republican
Louisville-based "Kentucky" Tea Party - God
Here's my point: We need more Tea, of distinct flavors.
Each flavor of Tea is unique. And that's a good thing! People can associate themselves with whatever flavor they want. If you don't like the local flavor, respectfully start your own Tea Party to the flavor of your liking. Don't feel compelled to merge the Tea groups into one.
I don't think I'd like a Green Raspberry Peach Southern-Sweet Tea very much.
However, I enjoy some of those types separately, and for different reasons.