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Sunday, April 10, 2011

What Is The Tea Party?

As we approach the annual individual tax deadline (which this year is April 18th), there are some noteworthy Tea Party protests around the country, including one major event in New York City's Foley Square on Friday evening, April 15th.

It gets one to thinking -- and as many people ask me: Just what is the Tea Party? 

There are some basic ground rules to remember for this question.

1.   There are many Tea Party organizations.

2.   No two Tea Party organizations are alike.

3.   Anyone can form a "tea party" and claim to be "tea party."  There is no licensing body to approve or disapprove of organizations.

4.   The principles espoused by one "tea party" may not be in common with the principles of any other "tea party."  See point 3, above.

5.   Many politicians -- particularly Republicans -- may claim to be "tea party" Republicans or have the "tea party" endorsement.  These claims should be viewed with suspicion, either because the "tea party" at issue is questionable on either the issues and facts, or on matters of integrity.  Furthermore, there are savvy politicians who have either infiltrated or formed their own "tea party" groups simply to seek legitimacy and positive press coverage.

6.   For the same reasons stated in point 5, above, "tea party" opponents can and have tried to form bogus "tea party" groups simply to attach disreputable people and positions to the movement.  The malevolent objective here (as is true in much of political "black ops") is to create an apparently valid basis upon which to impute the vilest of motives to the "tea party" movement.

7.   The "tea party" is not a political party, but a political movement.  I believe the true "Tea Party" spirit is embodied by a commitment to nonpartisan activity, and to one single bedrock issue: fiscal responsibility.  While certain tea party groups and their members may share agreement on certain other issues, those issues are separate from the central "tea party" fiscal responsibility issue. 

While members of a tea party organization are certainly free to run for public office or for "party" positions within the political party in which they have enrolled (e.g., Democrats or Republicans in New York), such candidates would be running as enrolled Democrats or enrolled Republicans and would be eligible to run for the nomination of their party.

Anyone wishing for clarification on this issue is welcome to contact me.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer, political consultant and strategic analyst on legal, business and policy matters.  Mr. Dixon has previously represented former presidential and gubernatorial candidates on New York election law matters for their campaigns, including managing petition drives.  New York tea party New Jersey tea party Manhattan bronx tea party brooklyn queens tea party staten island nassau tea party long island suffolk tea party westchester putnam tea party rockland tea party patriots tea party express tea party candidate    

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