Saturday, June 12, 2010

Meckler: Tea Party to partner with Leadership Institute for online activist training

(Updated Sun. pm with Meckler impressions, below. Also see George Rebane's writeup (link), with almost no overlap.)

At today's Tea Party Town Hall (pdf) in Penn Valley, Mark Meckler revealed two new initiatives for the Tea Party movement - a nationwide Get Out The Vote effort, and an online activist training program with the Leadership Institute, to answer your question "what can I do?"

They envision up to 150 individual training modules on all aspects of effecting political change.

And the arms race heats up...this would appear to be the right's answer to Democracy School.
(except that, upon googling, it seems they were doing that already, in workshops; so it's the "online" part that's new?)

Can anyone confirm (or deny) that this is the TPPmobile? It was a most impressive conveyance.

Meckler report:

For the afternoon, Stan Meckler was the Tea Party Town Hall MC, and two people gave speeches - his son, TPP co-leader and former Cafe Mekka owner Mark Meckler, and a fervent Sierra College student, son of an Aanestad aide. More on the student later.

Attendee Rebane, who had the better view, pegged the crowd at 200. While there was some demographic diversity, the crowd was mainly retirees, and appeared lily white, which would be meaningful anywhere but in Nevada County. (Here, it just means the alpaca farmer's elsewhere.)

Mark Meckler is a very good speaker. Two rhetorical themes stood out:

First, he comes across as a uniter, not a divider; which is leading by example, since "Our job is to convert people", so one should be "looking for agreement" when talking to friends and neighbors.

But his uniting is somewhat disingenuous, since part of it entails using language that means different things to "each side"*, akin to George Bush calling himself a "compassionate conservative"*.

This came across most clearly in Meckler's comments on Vietnam; he said that in DC, the WWII Memorial had been inspirational, but the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was "not an uplifting place"; "this war was run by the politicians", and its soldiers had "died because our politicians didn't have the will to do what was right".
What would have been right was left unstated.

Likewise, he said "I fight for my children..."; and that there's "an absolute obligation to deliver a nation at least as great" as the one that was delivered to us; we need to be "restoring America to what it was meant to be".
(Langston Hughes would agree, as would anyone concerned about climate change - something Meckler did not mention.)

Meckler's second rhetorical - trope? - which Randy Olson will approve of - is his use of storytelling. Like Sierra College trustee Aaron Klein*, Meckler conveys his message through stories - of a cowboy-turned-politician who's in DC because if his son could* die in service to this country, he himself could sacrifice to serve in DC; of a Democratic primary challenger who endorsed Tea Party values and beat the incumbent; of TPP co-leader Jenny Beth Martin with her husband walking away from their home rather than accept government aid to keep it, after their bankruptcy, since she "would rather clean someone else's bathroom than have someone else pay for her house". And of Chris Dodd and other politicians who get mostly(?) out-of-state contributions, yielding the expectation that they'll "fight for some company, not for their state".

"I want you to collect the stories", he told his listeners.


The TPPs have an interesting angle on endorsements - nationally, at least*, they don't endorse politicians, rather "we want politicians to endorse us" - which avoids the problem that once you've endorsed somebody, they don't need you anymore.

He had a great pro-term-limits line about how when newly elected guys get to DC, they say it feels like a cesspool, but then a couple years later it feels like a jacuzzi.

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