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How to Stop Trump: Lessons From the Tea Party


How to Stop Trump: Lessons From the Tea Party

Gonzalo Martínez de Vedia, Jeremy Haile

Donald Trump represents a grave threat to liberal democratic values. On Capitol Hill, Republicans are falling in line and some moderate Democrats have signaled a willingness to cut deals. But ordinary Americans have the power to resist. We know this is true because we have seen local, grassroots organizing take hold before.


You forgot that we do not have a "Fox" so called news. You are singing to the choir, however, how do we get the word out to everyone who is not indoctrinated by Fox? Fox is everywhere, any waiting room, sports bar, restaurant, coffee shop that has a TV. You forget that ClearChannel and one other billionaire own all radio shows and they cancelled progressive radio across America. Luckily here in Oregon or maybe just Portland, XrayFM brings us progressive news and ideas and I support them.

The media radio and TV is owned by a few (6) whose interests are that of making profits and lots of profits. Enough is never enough.


I think that is what is meant by " Enabled by a media that thrives on conflict," actually: Fox and "talk radio" and the banty-cock right shouters.


Your ideas are rapidly spreading. I started an Indivisible chapter in my community in Colorado and several more have already cropped up. Now we need a national network of Indivisible chapters that we can tap into and provide ideas and support for each other. Great job! You have stepped in to fill a void that the Democratic Party can't, or won't, fill.


It just blows my mind. Yet another essay asserting that a "lesson" ought to be taken from the Tea Party, without any acknowledgement that the Tea Party was NOT organized at the grassroots level.

That "small number" was covered by the MSM from the first gatherings of a dozen or less people.

The Tea Party fake uprising gave Corporate Democrats the excuse to not push for the public option at those Town Halls where the Tea Party jerks were shouting it down.

I called my Senators asking them why they weren't calling out the facts in regard to the corporate roots of Tea Party, and was told time and time again that those citizens had a right to be heard.

It served perfectly the ends of corporate Democrats, led by Obama and Baucus to KILL the public option.


I think you missed one huge discrepancy...

The tea party as a whole mostly just said NO...mostly wanted to tear down. They had no solutions, and solutions to complex problems don't have simple sound byte answers.


The solution is to bring back the fairness doctrine. Equal time to rebuttals.
When Reagan killed that, far right "news" and talk radio bloomed.


If we are to take a lesson from the Tea Party, the project cannot be only to stop Trump, but also to stop the values that we dislike within the Democratic Party. The Tea Party was not and is not a Republican unity movement. They gained power by refusing to support Republicans who disagreed with them. That was the raison d'etre of the splinter within the party. To simply unite in a "stop Trump" movement without also directing energy against the forces within the party that enabled Trump is to ignore the lessons of the Tea Party, not to take or use or adapt them.

Of course, one may not wish to do that. A lot of Republicans and others did vote least-worst, to stop Clinton, much as Democrats voted to stop Trumpo. Either way, after rejecting much their Republican "leadership," the Republican Party has both houses and the presidency.

Splinters succeed when there is widespread dissatisfaction with central parties. Without the disgust of Republican labor for their snobbish leadership and without the landmark betrayal of labor and peace and democratic process by elected Democrats, party officials, and recent candidates, Tea Party efforts might not look nearly so effective. Still, that in itself might be a reason for Democrats to consider making changes.

At the moment, well over fifty percent of the population that actually registered to vote is neither Democrat nor Republican: both major parties fail to add up to half of voters. The population that did not register to vote could, and is of course largely unaligned. Despite newsy rhetoric, apathetic is generally a bad descriptor: terms like trained helplessness, frustration, alienation, or fatalism do better. A Democratic party with less hubris might to better, but that is not going to come out of people like Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or the current DNC, who all have vested interests in the current mafia-financier-MIC-caliphate-black-ops setup.

It is not going to come out of Bernie Sanders--sadly, because Sanders has a lot of the requisite qualities. But the first thing such a group needs is to demonstrate that it is capable of voting against party officials, and Bernie couldn't do that now if he wanted to. It seems to me that Democrats have to start pretty much from scratch in this. No one in Democratic officialdom outside of a few Sanders delegates has yet stood up against the railroading of the presidential nomination process, the sale of favors for campaign funds by the president, the acceptance of foreign campaign donations by the Democratic candidate, the DNC diversion of funds donated to Democrats from those candidates to the Trump nomination as a supposed patsy for Clinton--and so on.

I do observe that a lot of Democrats want reform. But they have voted people into power who do not. Something like a Tea-Party-style organization within the party could change that. But at present, it does not exist, and even calls to it like this are suspiciously absent any criticism of power within the party.

We need to organize. This could happen inside the party or outside.

OK, the nomination was stolen from Bernie, and Bernie had more than enough popular support to take the general election. But Stein did not poll under 3.5% for months, and suddenly received under 1% of the vote: frankly, that is not likely to be a clean count. And the final figures for Gary "What's a leppo" Johnson were similarly odd. But that means that at least some of the same motives for which one leaves the Democratic Party for the Greens operate as drastically in the general election: someone with partial control over some digital or social apparatus did not allow an honest count, let alone a level field. We are fighting mostly the same corrupt bloc with the same corrupt M.O. in either case, though there is clearly some sort of division within it that allowed for the repeated leaks to Wikileaks throughout the last months of the election.

Still, that does suggest that a Tea-Party-style left push might succeed within the party--were such a thing to exist. It also suggests that it might as well exist within the party as outside of it--should it manage to do so. Whether it can is another question. I suspect that the first sign would be a willingness to take on the problems within the party as well as those on the outside.


Tea Party conservatives also carried guns at demonstrations. What would happen if liberals did that?

And herding liberals is like herding cats. It brings diversity of opinions and ideas, but its hard on organization.

Online Direct Democracy


It's all upside down. The Tea Party was really a protest against corporate power, the East Indies Company taxing tea and the fat white pilgrims who wouldn't send it back to King Jimmy. Don't Tread On Me was a revolutionary slogan just like Defend or Die in favor of the new national government. These were Federalists slogans promoting our new Constitution to wrest control from the Articles of Confederation giving sovereign power to 13 colonies. Our forefathers knew we had to have a central federal government to regulate currency so we would have one rather than 13 and commerce to ensure the economic stability of the new Republic but we's so stupid we allow the Republicans to take these pro-government slogans and make them anti-federalists slogans. We have to have a central government and it's why the Bill of Rights is the preamble to the Constitution and it is EXACTLY why the Tea Party turns everything upside down because they know most Americans do not know history or how the hell we got here in the first place. It's hard to defend our heritage and future when you don't know what the hell it is!!


I would start with asking how one would define "liberal democratic values," in a country that has increasingly embraced fascism (by definition). Twenty years into America's war on the poor, how (and for whom) would such values apply?

The Tea Party had a number of Republican friends in Congress. Middle class liberals have friends in the Dems in Congress, more or less. The masses of low income and poor, don't. Not only do the poor have no representation whatsoever, but have been stripped of even the most basic human rights (UN's UDHR) to food and shelter. The fact that the broader public has found this to be acceptable over the past 20 years shows that Americans really don't get the concept of "liberal democratic values."


The actual Pilgrims were people who fled religious persecution in Europe, and they suffered a great deal of hardship and poverty. The history of the chunk of land later called the US is actually tremendously complex.

It's worth noting that the first humans here, later known as American Indians, were also immigrants, coming north from south of the current US-Mexican border, as well as crossing the land mass that once connected Alaska with today's Siberia. Various groups of these ultimately developed into "nations," and just like white people, they pursued wars for land and resources.


When tens of thousands were turning out for Sanders where was the media? You are right, Progressives have no voice


Correct me if I am wrong. I always felt that the Tea Party was the brain child of the Koch faction of the GOP. The Tea Party had unlimited funding and ample media coverage. All they had to do was wrapped themselves in the flag, thump on the Bible and scream a lot. I doubt that the Democratic Party has a corresponding faction who would be willing to promote and finance a progressive move within the party.
Sorry I am a bit cynical right now. Americans are being scammed by drug companies, but my Democratic senator voted against importing drugs. I just hope that the Dems are not too corrupt to save, but right now I have my doubts.


No mention anywhere in this article...of ALEC and the effing Koch Bros????


Not just that but also tons of cash supplied by corporations and billionaires. The Koch brothers were solidly behind the so called tea party. That kind of cash buys a lot of press and influence.


Remember the Democrats response to the Tea Party was the Coffee Party. Quite short lived it was, and very lame too.


Exactly. The problem is cash and strongly organized groups that are paid with that cash. Cash makes it all happen. Washington is pay to play and that will never change. The problem of billionaire cash buying the government and media is a real serious issue.


Oh, it surely has its corporate eminence gris somewhere, and the Kochs are worth suspecting at best. But the movement is not interesting for its ideas nor for any special purity, but because it is a successful factionalist splinter derived mostly from relatively decentralized support that has not taken over, but has considerably altered a very trenchant major party. It is working with less money than its opposition, both within the Republican Party and in most general elections.

The point is not at all that the Kochs are not there.

At the same time, surely you are correct that a movement on the left is less likely to garner corporate support than right-wing Democrats or Republicans, and of course that is one factor. But then again, both parties are to the right of the populace: it would have better grounds for public support. Sanders showed that a campaign could be run from such support--though, of course, trying to run it within the Democratic Party meant that there were other problems to resolve, and you cannot win an election by endorsing the opposition.

In general, Democratic management of the nomination, the election, the publicity, and the aftermath has been downright scary, worse than abysmal, and I strongly suspect that the Party is apt to get worse before it gets better, since there appears to be no faction in its officialdom with enough interest to reform it--with the nearest exceptions, Sanders and Warren, both embracing the Goldman-Sachs-MIC-neocon wing at the vital moment.

But you know, I have been wrong before. And assuming that we do not get roasted or nuked off the planet, the dance goes on, no? If not within the Democratic Party, where does one make the progressive move, and how? Maybe it will get very, very bad, but we won't be let out of the game, will we? I am Green myself, and I voted for Stein. I would have voted for Sanders had the Party allowed its voters to elect him. I'd love to see all the good hearts and old comrades in the Democratic Party go Green. It seems to me that it would be a far easier path. But you know, there's only just that few people who seem interested, once again.

I am interested that there seems to be so little apparent interest in reform within the Democratic Party. It does not seem an impossible project, but people have to get out of the little clouds of denial.


THANK YOU! I'll never forget the Tea Party rise. I was neck-deep organizing for Medicare for All. While the MSM was reporting on protests of a couple dozen people with tea bags stapled to their hats, hundreds upon hundreds were protesting for Medicare for All with not even a mention on the news.

It never was a grassroots organization. It was and remains an organization powered by the Koch's and their ilk, representing the greediest and most selfish elements of the Republican Party. That so many Americans fell for it is telling considering the recent election, along with those on the left who maintain we can get rid of Trump by following the Tea-Party playbook without the assistance of the mainstream media or deep-pocketed donors.

Folks should be lobbying their Congress members, and if Indivisible helps bring like-minded folks together in their communities that's a good thing. But I fear a new wave of slacktivism, where folks feel like clicking on an action alert or placing a phone call is actually doing something effective. Congress has demonstrated over and over that it does nothing that doesn't benefit their donors. The Tea Party played into that arrangement.

Further, there's a world of difference between lobbying Congress and organizing a social movement. Folks shouldn't think that lobbying Congress will stop Donald Trump. Only massive resistance will turn this ship around.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. A few years ago, the great Ralph Nader was trying to lift a similar organization off the ground, specifically around raising the minimum wage.