Maybe you scoffed at the headline. Maybe you didn’t see it. Maybe you’re in denial. Or maybe you just don’t care what other people think.
If you want to stop the slide into irrelevancy (and the Tea Party movement is far down that path), then pay attention.
If, however, you like the screaming in wilderness, stop reading now. This post is for those who want to continue the mission set forth in February 2009.
The headline I referred to in the opening paragraph? It was this one from Rasmussen on August 30, 2011:
It gets worse. In a head-to-head match-up against the “progressive” label, Tea Party loses 31% to 29%.
The poll is packed with bad news. Let’s look at the causes and the fixes. What are the Seven Deadly Sins of Movements that we’ve committed since last election?
7 Deadly Sins of Movements
Personality Cult: A sustained movement demands constant refreshing. That means new blood, new ideas, and, most importantly, new energy. Building a cult around charismatic individuals is tempting, but it’s deadly. Cult figures can inspire. They also disappoint and demoralize. They demand control. They loathe delegation. *
Anarchy: Still, movements require some sort of figure head. Sorry, they do. Someone must take the lead. Someone must rent the park and send the press releases. Someone must be willing to take the first step, just as the signers of the Declaration did. The idea of a “leaderless organization” is wonderful, but the human brain won’t organize around a clot of individuals. Leaders who arise naturally because of their drive to push the movement forward are indispensable. Leaders can be distinguished from cult figures over time: leaders focus on the prize while cult figures focus on who’s following them.
Zealotry: Also known as “fanaticism.” The press promotes Tea Party fanatics as the core of the movement, confusing the Unknowing Believers. Don’t know who the fanatics are? They don’t care about winning minds and hearts; they seem to want immediate economic collapse. Zealots believe that people will rally to their side once the calamity has struck. They predict a meltdown and hope to say “I told you so” among the smoldering remnants of society.
Despair: Some in the movement believe that the United States–and, more consequentially, the rights of man–are doomed. They expected the 2010 elections to reverse 70 years of government growth. When it did not, they gave up. The Wall Street Journal made a Houston man the poster child for Tea Party despair. If you find yourself saying “it’s hopeless,” do something. Take some action. Action is the best antidote to depression and despair.
Vainglory: This is despair’s opposite. Vainglory in a movement is the belief that, if one’s motives are noble, then one’s ideas will prevail. It’s an idiotic, lazy belief. The good people in Germany believed that their own goodness would spare them the horrors of Nazism. They were wrong. If you think that being right is enough, think again.
Acedia: Those guilty of acedia show up at big rallies. And that’s it. They see the Tea Party as an entertainment troupe. Sometimes they vote. They seem oblivious to the fact that the progressives work hard every day to take away liberty and property. They let others take care of things for them. We all need to take a break now an then. But if the breaks exceed the work, the balance is wrong.
Wrath: This is the one that really kills center-right movements. Rage and anger get old really fast. People want to be happy, and rage and anger don’t seem like the path to joy. Yes, we get angry when government tramples our rights. But we can’t live our lives in anger and rage. If we do, we’ll die young and lonely. If you find yourself feeling wrathful, smile. Smile and hold that smile for 30 seconds.
Make The Next Poll Better
The After Party is one way to reverse the trend in polling.
I believe that the Tea Party movement–even if under a different name–is the last, best hope for human rights. As such, we who believe in liberty have a moral obligation to advance this cause.
I feel the tug of these sins every day, and I give in occasionally. When I do, it helps no one.
As we prepare for the After Party beginning Thursday, September 15 at 7:00 pm, please remember that we need more than 29 percent on our side to win. And we can’t afford to have a majority working against us.
With a smile and dedicated service to our ideals, we will win this thing–eventually.
* Sarah Palin’s failure to launch a POTUS bid in Iowa is an example of how personality cults can hurt movements.