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West Point Cadets
West Point cadets and instructors

West Point Cadets

A group of 13 cadets and four instructors from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point take on the weekly 'On Leadership' questions. Who better to explore the gray areas of leadership than members of The Long Gray Line?

Good ideas obscured by bad leadership

Q: On this July 4th weekend, we celebrate Adams, Jefferson and other rebels who dared to challenge the established political order. Putting your own political preferences aside, what do you think the leaders of the American Revolution would view the leaders of today's 'Tea Party?'

The leaders of the American Revolution might very well consider the leaders of today's Tea Party as confused attention seekers. The Tea Party suffers an affliction of many social organizations; those who emerge as leaders cannot deliver the leadership required to further the cause of the group. As I compare what the Tea Party claims to stand for and what the Tea Party does, I see a lack of vision, direction and communication.

Our rebellious founding fathers were angry and fed up, but they provided leadership that galvanized a budding nation. Political and social momentum fueled by anger requires leadership capable of forbearance and clear communication, and I just don't see either from today's Tea Party.

Responsible leaders establish clear organizational goals and boundaries for the expected personal conduct of the members of their organizations. An examination of the Tea Party's goals reveals potential leaders competing for personal attention from the media; aspiring Tea Party leaders seem very comfortable with camera time, but not with the responsibility and accountability inherent to good leadership. Some seemingly good political ideas are lost in the Tea Party's cacophony of complaints and impotent leadership. -- Colonel Eric G. Kail


A ruderless movement

Today's Tea Party has no effective leaders; it has a brackish swirl of genuinely concerned citizens and fear-mongering instigators. Adams and Jefferson probably would have been as confused about the movement as most of us are today.

In the beginning, like many, I was pleasantly surprised at what appeared to be a surging demand for constitutionality -- and the inevitable debates over what exactly that means. Unfortunately, the movement's rudderless mutations have caused me to abandon hope; it is now infected with racist claims from demagogue politicians and talk-show hosts. For example, many supporters seem to believe that a black, Indonesian Muslim man named Hussein has hijacked the White House and wants to disarm the country. Until the Tea Party finds proper leadership, I don't think that its underlying virtues will be able to breathe.

The Tea Party needs someone to distill the healthy public frustration with government over-extensions from the sound bite-hungry culture that it has created. It needs someone willing to sacrifice the urge to exploit the basest of human sentiments at the expense of some free publicity.

After all, an important component of leadership is the ability to see past daily sideshows for the sake of a higher goal. I have enough faith in the collective American judgment to think that once that politician emerges, her leadership will be rewarded with the Oval Office. -- Cadet Sam Goodgame


Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

By West Point Cadets

 |  July 1, 2010; 3:22 PM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Colonel Eric G. Kail - if that's your real name, what would the Founding Father think of the current administration? I'll share some thoughts. He's Racist, the first word that is descriptive. I've never seen a president willing to sue a state over a law that should be enforced, furthermore, on a sketchy basis. An uninformed public can listen to the biased news' outlets to form their opinion. Hell, when the DOJ has 9 attys with Gitmo clients - yeah terrorist clients it's not a big suprise.. The second word, Divisive. Let's pit the blacks, latinos, and other people of 'color' against whitey, after all, its payback time right? Where are the voices of the blacks, latinos and other people of color that do not agree with Zero. This president is working on a 1960's race agenda, taught to him by papa and his other mentors who hate this country. Wonder why everything ends up turning to the race issue? Divide and conquer - an old tactic from the beginning of man.

Posted by: dominoky | July 13, 2010 7:38 PM
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Well, its good to see some employment coming as a result of Obama policy -professional bloggers. Why would a large group of people support the tea party ideas? Because principled ideas are lacking in gubmint today. If you Obamanians all would stand back and think longer term, and it will happen at some point, when you mature, you'll see what a mess Zero is making of this country. He's settling into his old familiar Chicago style political ways: bullying, making stinky deals, agitating the crowds, dividing and pitting people against each other, only to propose the pre-meditated agenda he intended in the first place. This is middle school stuff.

Posted by: dominoky | July 13, 2010 7:19 PM
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Do the terms "treasonous," "seditious," and "racist" fit the Tea Party? I say Yes they do. Can you say "Right Supremest?"

Posted by: baworks | July 6, 2010 4:24 AM
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I strongly suspect those denigrating the movement here have compiled their info from the big 3 media outlets or the ComPost. They certainly don't speak as if they have ever talked to a single Tea Partier or gone to any rally. The conviction with which they speak about things they clearly do not understand is staggering. I think it their fervent wish the movement loses steam and goes away. Doesn't it usually seem that the very things the left screech about are the things they fear the most?

Posted by: theduck6 | July 2, 2010 7:31 AM
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*********

Sir, if you had attended a TeaParty rally you would be posting something utterly opposite that which you have written. These screaming hyenas were unleashed upon America by the very likes of Dick Armey, a most ineffective and unconscionable politician. They came to the townhall meeting of a Democrat Congressman in Delaware with paper instruction for all to see, that told them to sit down front and cause as much noise and dissention as possible. They were told to impede the speaker from even speaking.
These unwitting fools were mostly elderly, undereducated and scared by the black man followers who were lied to.
They were screaming about the black man taking away their guns, messing with THEIR government run health care, and some carrying the birth certificates claiming our black President hasn't shown them his.
The fact that any politician who will have access to America's secrets MUST be investigated starting with where they were born, didn't even register in their tiny brains. It is telling that not one person who ever reached the Presidency has ever been found to be foreign born, flies right over their heads. This is because we do require background checks on all of them. As far as your claim about the "left" screeching, that hasn't happen except in your incapacitated mind.
And like a good America, the only thing I fear is that someday I might have to strap on my gun to protect myself and my family from other Americans who call me names because my brain can reason and their's cannot.
This entire farce from the right only came about because we democratically elected a Black American as our President. No other President in our history has been so challenged to constantly provide his record of birth and his parentage.
It is telling that the state of Hawaii has done all of this, and yet I heard a Teabagger claiming that the newspaper posting of Obama's birth was probably done because his Mother knew that someday he would run for the Presidency and she wanted to make sure no on would know he was a Kenyan Muslim and therefore a terrorist. fritz

Posted by: papafritz571 | July 5, 2010 4:01 PM
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Dear MonkeyNavigated:

I'm very grateful to you for putting in the link to the May interview with Tea Party Founder Judson. I had missed that due to moving house and really appreciated the chance to read it.

Anyone who considers the Tea Party a viable choice really ought to take a good look at the kind of person they are voting for, so I will repeat the link here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2010/05/05/DI2010050502168.html

Of course, if you can read it and come away from it thinking that this man has some kind of insight into government, humanity or really anything, then you are probably already a member of a Tea Party-type group. Simplistic answers to complex issues only lead to more issues and yes/no answers may make us feel good, but solve very little.

The TeaParty offers no plans, no vision, no understanding. Simplicity is all they've got. And they seem very proud of it.

Posted by: WonderfulWorld | July 5, 2010 9:46 AM
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Remember the first major Tea Party rally? It was April 15th, 2009 to protest Obama's oppressive tax policies.

You know, the tax policies that weren't in effect yet. The Tea Party unknowingly protested Bush's tax policies, but wrongly named them as Obama's policies.

I'm all for a simpler tax code, making capital gains taxes equivalent with income taxes (or switching their rates), getting the debt under control, and a few other elements of the Tea Party's message. Unfortunately, their insistence that our current problems are solely the fault of this administration is false and stubborn. Truth is, the national debt has been rising for decades - a large portion of that increase is the result of Iraq and Afghanistan. It also took our tax code several decades to get as complex as it is. I just can't bring myself to support a movement that bases itself on so many falsehoods and refuses to recognize facts.

Posted by: damascuspride04 | July 2, 2010 11:04 PM
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The 'tea party' clowns have nothing in common with our Founders. They get increasingly irrational and extreme, their bigotry is undeniable, and the ideas are incoherent. Further, they defend the forces of 'free-market' destruction, who are the people who primarily caused the destruction of our economy.

The latest of wave of this fringe is even more extreme. This is even worse than the nuts of the 1994 midterm elections.

Posted by: revbookburn | July 2, 2010 10:53 PM
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Do they still make hubcaps?

Posted by: HookedOnThePost | July 2, 2010 10:38 PM
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Comparing our brilliant founding fathers and what they did to a bunch of sore loser poodles manipulated by far-right Republican organizations and lobbyisyts for huge corporations?

The ONLY thing this collection of illiterate screaming racists and haters have in common with those giants is that they stole their symbols and slogans.

Like wackjob Glenn Beck putting on a powedered wig and comparing himself to Thomas Jefferson...these losers have forever tarnished and demeaned these symbols. Truly pathetic.

Posted by: wilder5121 | July 2, 2010 3:58 PM
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I think the Tea Party does have a vision. It simply is not a vision that is workable in a modern world. Overall the Tea Party wants to lower federal taxation and possibly end the federal income tax and replace it with a 24 percent national sales tax, balance the federal budget, increase Defense spending, repeal the recently enacted health care reform including any possible reductions in Medicare benefits for current recipients, select U.S. Senators in state legislatures by repealing the 17th amendment to the Constitution, abolish the EPA and federal Department of Education, and end all federal programs designed to redistribute income based on poverty. That's pretty spefic vision that has been articulated by TP leaders. But once people hear what this program is, they probably will not support it. If it were to be enacted, the United States would be ending almost all the progressive reforms of the 20th century that have made the country the envy of the world.

Posted by: Viewpoint2 | July 2, 2010 3:54 PM
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A-VOTER wrote

I don't think it's fair to compare our founding fathers to a bunch of rejected Klan members.
**************************************

actually the poster posted this kneejerk, ad hominem, juvenile attack many times. Either the poster has virtual Tourette's or they get their news from the MSM. I am a Tea Partier and this posater could not be farther from the truth. If you want to see a rabble just lany left wing rally and get the body coun of police, shop windows and litter clean up.

Posted by: theduck6 | July 2, 2010 3:02 PM
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HITPOINTS

You say:

Our very way of life in under siege," said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination

If The Constitution is as utterly precise and unambiguous as you suggest, why do we have a Supreme Court? Or any court for that matter?

In fact, just the other day our SC discovered that the second amendment said American have the right to bear arms.

Did the side arguing against simply have a colorful imagination? Or is it possible, just possible, that not everyone interprets the Constitution the way you do?

Posted by: OldSoldier4 | July 2, 2010 2:38 PM
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CALDEM you offer this about the TP:

They actually support giving tax breaks to foreign corporations doing business in the US and they support the shipping of American jobs to other countries under the ruse of "free markets" and "de-regulation."

Was it the tea party that enticed BMW, Toyota, etc. to open plants in the US by offering what? Tax Breaks!!

Who was the president when NAFTA was signed? What job ever went overseas because of de-regulation? The regulations that get squashed only apply to Americans. How many jobs went overseas after the break of Ma Bell? Or the airline industry?

Now, if you want to argue that the unions may have had something to do with jobs leaving the country, I think you may be on to soemthing. Because it IS the case, that many manufacturing jobs went overseas because of the pressure unions put on businesses with their outrageous demands. I mean, I guy working at GM in Detroit who was slapping on hubcaps was getting more than $100K in salary and benefits.

Posted by: OldSoldier4 | July 2, 2010 2:31 PM
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Colonel-

You say:

An examination of the Tea Party's goals reveals potential leaders competing for personal attention from the media; aspiring Tea Party leaders seem very comfortable with camera time, but not with the responsibility and accountability inherent to good leadership. Some seemingly good political ideas are lost in the Tea Party's cacophony of complaints and impotent leadership.

Glad I read this closely, colonel. For a minute I thought you were describing Obama! Here is a person (Obama) who is on TV virtually every single day and complains that his message isn't being heard.

Please say you are joking about accountability. When you took command of an organization did you still blame your predecesor for things that weren't going well nearly two years after taking command.

You further add: 'good political ideas' are lost in the 'cacophony of complaints and impotent leadership.' Isn't that percisely the reason it took so long to pass the Bill of Rights?

Our founding fathers were many things. But one they were not was a group afraid to express their opinions and engage in healthy debate.


You also say:

As I compare what the Tea Party claims to stand for and what the Tea Party does, I see a lack of vision, direction and communication.

There is no indication that you fully understand what the TP claims to stand for and how its actions do not match.

Just because YOU don't see the vision does not mean there isn't one. How much time have you spent trying to find out?

As for Cadet Goodgame. Does she know who Sam Adams was- besides a brand of beer? Does her assessment now pass for critical thinking and cogent analysis?

She says:
Unfortunately, the movement's rudderless mutations have caused me to abandon hope;

Well Cdt. Goodgame, it is probably well that you were not at Valley Forge. My guess is the Soldiers there would have said the same thing about Washington and the Continental Congress!

BEAT NAVY!!

Posted by: OldSoldier4 | July 2, 2010 2:16 PM
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I don't think it's fair to compare our founding fathers to a bunch of rejected Klan members.

Posted by: A-Voter | July 2, 2010 2:09 PM
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I'm a former commissioned officer, and a service academy graduate. It is entirely inappropriate for officers and cadets to offer any opinion at all on a civilian political party. They may believe they are addressing the simple tactics and techniques of leadership they have observed, without regard to politics. However, as in so many ethical concerns, even an appearance of impropriety must be completely avoided. I am, in fact, astonished that these current and future leaders chose to provide such opinions just days after a US Army General resigned his command during wartime because of the appearance that he and his staff lacked complete respect for their civilian leadership. These comments demonstrate a real lack of judgement.

Posted by: qtrfoil85 | July 2, 2010 1:58 PM
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I don't think it's fair to compare our founding fathers to a bunch of rejected Klan members.

Posted by: A-Voter | July 2, 2010 1:54 PM
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The Tea Bagger morons better watch themselves. If they cause too many problems, the feds will just have them killed.

Posted by: gchris01 | July 2, 2010 1:53 PM
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I don't think it's fair to compare our founding fathers to a bunch of rejected Klan members.

Posted by: A-Voter | July 2, 2010 1:49 PM
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With respects to Col. Kail and Cadet Goodgame, their summary of the Founding Fathers and the prelude to the American Revolution is incorrect. Any true historian of the period would know that the beginnings of popular disaffection started as early as 1764, with James Otis' "The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved." In 1765, Patrick Henry gave his famous "If this be treason, make the most of it" speech. The Sons of Liberty formed in 1765, and used violence and intimidation to get its points across. Periodic violence and lawbreaking occurred throughout the next decade in protest of a series of British legislative Acts, including the destruction of the British ship Gaspee and the Boston Tea Party. The first shots of the American Revolution were not officially fired until Lexington on April 19, 1775.

If it took the Founding Fathers a decade of disorganized protest and violence to launch the Revolution, why are people criticizing the Tea Party movment, which is only about a year old?

Posted by: carpiodiem | July 2, 2010 1:45 PM
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The tea party folks are upset about the national debt -- yet they also seem pretty ignorant about this subject.

Where was the tea party anger when Reagan tripled the debt, from 1 trillion to 3 trillion? Or when Bush Jr. doubled the debt, from 5 trillion to 10 trillion?

But probably what turns most Americans off about the "movement" is that the majority of tea partiers are essentially paranoid, believing things that most Americans do not: they believe the government is coming for our guns (when gun rights in the past few years have only expanded), Obama is not a citizen, taxes are very high (but they are at their lowest rates in years), etc...

Posted by: brian_away | July 2, 2010 1:41 PM
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In the Tea Party movement the KKK found a new home, they were accepted with open arms and then took over the movement to create the Tea Klan we have today.

Posted by: rcc_2000 | July 2, 2010 1:39 PM
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I don't think it's fair to compare our founding fathers to a bunch of rejected Klan members.

Posted by: A-Voter | July 2, 2010 1:25 PM
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One would have thought they were smarter than pick "Tea Party" instead of, say, Minutemen or Patriots. The Boston Tea Party, far from a "patriotic" act, was actually a group of hooligans who deliberately sought out to destroy private property. Worse, they dressed up as Native Americans so as to cast blame on a unloved segment of the population. Is that the model of engaged citizenry we want today -- wantonly destroying property and then casting blame on "those" people. I wonder who these teabaggers would consider to be "those" people today.

Posted by: audritsh | July 2, 2010 1:19 PM
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The new Tea Party was a publicity gimmick financed and promoted by Fox News and other global corporations who paid Sarah Palin 100k per speech to speak at rallies. It failed because their message is false - and as Abe Lincoln said - you can't fool all the people all of the time. The new Tea Party is the exact opposite of the original Tea Party. The original Tea Party was held as a protest against a British corporation (The East India Company) that wanted the colonial government to place a high tax on goods made in the US - and no tax on goods imported from England - giving the foreign corporation a huge advantage over US businesses. The New Tea Party is the exact opposite. They actually support giving tax breaks to foreign corporations doing business in the US and they support the shipping of American jobs to other countries under the ruse of "free markets" and "de-regulation."

Posted by: CALDEM | July 2, 2010 1:17 PM
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I don't think it's fair to compare our founding fathers to a bunch of rejected Klan members.

Posted by: A-Voter | July 2, 2010 1:13 PM
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Today's Tea Party is accurately portrayed in a recent Onion piece that I hesitate to call a spoof, because it is so close to the truth.

"Area Man Passionate Defender of What He Imagines Constitution To Be"

(excerpt)
"Our very way of life in under siege," said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination.

Posted by: hitpoints | July 2, 2010 12:29 PM
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Yes... the Tea Parties are localized and leaderless... mostly just local PTA-type ladies dominating their groups ! Their popular agenda of smaller Government, self-reliance, lower deficits and lower taxes is well popular.. but who cares ? Certainly not the elites in Washington.

They have only managed to elect a few popular guys like Chris Christie, Scott Brown, Nikki Haley, and Sharron Angle... they have retired numerous Dems and Republicans across America in Primaries... and will have a substantial impact on Nov. But heck who cares ?

They have John McCain and Harry Reid running scared like most incumbents this year. But heck who cares ?

They are leaderless ! Hah ! Ole Harry can chortle about how he was unseated by a leaderless movement !

Posted by: Petras123 | July 2, 2010 12:14 PM
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.
What is a Cadet ? A college student without meaningful work experience. Such a person teaches leadership ? From what base ?

What is a Colonel ? A cog in a command-driven, top-down organization, who may know even less about leading than the college students.
Of course, a particular Colonel may actually have great knowledge of and experience with leadership, but it doesn't automatically accrue with the position/ rank.
.

Posted by: BrianX9 | July 2, 2010 11:56 AM
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The strength of such movements as the "Tea Partiers" lies in their ability to foment action WITHOUT a central authority -- reminiscent of the resistance during WWII. This attribute likely discomforts the elites more than root canal surgery, as it provides difficult terrain for political manipulation. It would also seem that this asymmetrical style continues to be lost on the "Colonels and Cadets" who adhere to their top-down structure for leadership. America's future is dependent upon reducing federal government. Once that is firmly entrenched, then the "leadership" can emerge. Whether the Tea Party wave will set us on that path remains to be seen.

Posted by: popjoy | July 2, 2010 11:25 AM
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The thing that gets me about the tea baggers is that if they had actually lived during the time of the American Revolution they would have most likely been Loyalists and fought for the Brit King. The words Conservative and Revolution don’t really go together in the same sentence. Conservatives at best support the status quo, at worst they support regression. The tea baggers don’t want a revolution but a regressive reaction to the trends in America today.

Posted by: ecomcon | July 2, 2010 10:50 AM
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All the Tea Party needs is a leader. Most politicians lack the spine, to enter a leadership contest, to find a leader. More than half of us are not socialist, or desirous of a welfare state. We folks on the right, who provide for ourselves, do understand, we have masses who cannot care for themselves, and need help, in the form of a job. That should be about it.

Posted by: dangreen3 | July 2, 2010 10:44 AM
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Seriously, all anyone should do is read the craptacular online web discussion with the Tea Party Nation founder that was held on WAPO online. That man took what was a great opportunity to "clear up some misconceptions" of what the Tea Party was (after all, isn't that what the Tea Party apologists are always asking for?) and basically just confirmed almost everything negative about them. That interview and the Tea Partiers silence during the Bush federal expansion years pretty much tells you everything you really need to know.
Transcript: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2010/05/05/DI2010050502168.html

Posted by: monkeynavigated | July 2, 2010 10:43 AM
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The Founding Fathers were FOR something, and something specific. The tea baggers are AGAINST something, they know not what.

The tea baggers are the rankest of hypocrites. They were dead silent when W was running up huge deficits with his tax cuts for Goldman Sacks partners and his Excellent Adventure in Iraq. They only start foaming at their mouths when Obama steps in and tries to save us from W's supply-side neocon train wreck.

Take back the gov't from the person who WON THE ELECTION? That's blatantly anti-democratic. These tea baggers just can't accept that they LOST THE ELECTION. If they so hate democracy, they should move somewhere that shares their antipathy. Ahmadinejad would welcome them to his Iran.

Posted by: Garak | July 2, 2010 10:31 AM
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With all due respect to the servicemen that commented, citizen organizations are not bound by a procedure to have structure. They are not created to be tactical, but objective. Tactics and strategy are left to individuals. As a result, they will be rudderless.

But the Tea Party has been effective. Whether you are for, against, or undecided about them, you know who they are and what their platform is. They have entered the social realm, which was their initial goal. You talk about them and your opinion of them and what you think they stand for... but that requires that you've engaged in society enough to know what they are. It never took leadership to accomplish that goal.

If they were to be a viable political force then yes, they would require leadership. But social entities are not military ones. Lives are not immediately on the line if one ideology is ascendant over another. Murders and riots have not spiked after any election, including Bush.

The remaining and majority of anti-tea party commenters... I get this sense that the vitrol is mostly because protests were okay in the 60's and early 70's when it was about social issues with which they agreed, but now they disagree with the politics of this protest movement, as if protesting should only be a leftist form of expression.

Posted by: dgw1091 | July 2, 2010 10:27 AM
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Of course the Tea Party isn't organized.
It's impossible to organize such a large a new social movement (15% to 30% of the population depending how pollsters ask the questions) in such a short time - about 15 months.

That leads some to predict the Tea Party will fade away. That's probably true, but not until it defeats Big Government. The reason is that the Bigger Government gets, the more Government intrudes on our lives, which creates more Tea Party members. The Tea Party is based on the minute man movement. It awakens when danger arises and fades away after the threat has been defeated. Citizen soldiers are a long American tradition.

The Tea Party and Big Government illustrate the natural law that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

While Government appears to have lasting staying power, in fact that's not true. Big Governmemt is weak and tottering on the edge of a cliff. Government exists and grows only by siphoning resources from the population. Cut off the resources and Big Government will fall like a rock dropped from a cliff. If the population refuses to cooperate with the siphoning process, Big Government will lose power.

Ghandi knew several hundred thousand British soldiers and civil servants couldn't rule several hundred million Indians, if the Indian population withdrew cooperation with British rule in their daily lives.

Likewise, the US Government cannot force the American population to cooperate.

Obama proclaims each month: "Let there be jobs!"

Alas, no jobs appear. Unless the jobs appear soon, Obama will disappear. Obama will disappear before the Tea Party disappears.

Obama forgets what Reagan knew: The American people create jobs, not Government. Reagan knew he needed to convince the job creators he was on their side. Obama has declared war on the job creators.

The Tea Party will not prevail because of:
- demonstrations
- militias
- Second Amendment exercises

A Ghandi inspired withdrawal of cooperation with the Government will be the instrument that brings down Big Government. That instrument will be wielded by millions of Americans independently making decisions about how they live their lives and run their businesses, not by a highly organized political machine. This is in best tradition of American citizen soldiers responding to ward off danger.

The results are inevitable.
The resistance has begun.
The resistance will prevail.

Happy Independence Day!

Posted by: jfv123 | July 2, 2010 10:15 AM
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Well, let's see: the original Boston Tea Party was primarily a protest against taxation without representation. It's supremely ironic when the tea partiers show up for their protests here in Washington, DC--a city infamous for taxation without representation (just look at our license plates!)--and have nothing whatsoever to say about our lack of representation in Congress.

Posted by: MrDarwin | July 2, 2010 9:49 AM
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Focused leadership? When? The rebellion was slow in developing any common direction or leadership. The 13 colonies were not keen on becoming independent, they were not united and they had many different leaders going different directions. It was events, and the mistakes and poor judgement of George III, that eventually moved the colonies in the same direction.

The Tea Party is a spontaneous, organic movement. It may become an organized force for change. In the meantime it is simply a decentralized venue for people to vent their frustration at the out-of-control growth in government. If it becomes something akin to a Continental Congress it will be a result of the existing structures refusing to accommodate the concerns of its adherents. More likely the political structures in place will absorb the concerns of the movement, as has repeatedly been the case of earlier grass-root movements.

Posted by: homesower | July 2, 2010 9:36 AM
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The comparison of the Tea Party and the Founding Fathers is a strained and imperfect comparison.

It is a comparison of political movements at different stages. The Founding Fathers at the moment of the Declaration of Independence represent a culmination of decades of political evolution. The Tea Party, on the other hand, is a protest moment that is only month's old and is still in it's formative stages -- if it even lasts at all.

The good cadets should study their American history a little more to realize that the path to July 4th included riots like the Boston Massacre, protests that resulted in the destruction of private property (The original Tea Party, angry/violent rhetoric, tax protests, fermenting civil disobidience, armed resistance militia, etc.

The American Revolutionary movement began in 1763 and took many twists and turns before culminating in the U.S. Constitution's ratification in 1787.

To be sure, today's Tea Party movement is half-baked and relatively leaderless. But then again, so was the original American Revolution when it first started.

Posted by: Bsix | July 2, 2010 9:33 AM
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"My son and his friend went to a Tea Party rally in Tulsa. They were disappointed. It has become just a big, commercial enterprise. Most of the speakers were there to sell something. Most of the booths were there to sell something. Speeches were plugs for books. Is it a movement or just another way to make money?"
* * * *
Yes, the free market will be the end of the movement. Gotta love it.

Posted by: mandrake | July 2, 2010 9:29 AM
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As an Air Force veteran, I am both happy and irked at the comments made by DavidH3. The vast majority of the US armed forces are more versed and loyal to the US Constitution and their leaders (civilian and uniformed) than many of their civilian counterparts. Maybe because of the recent behavior of General McKhrystal is clouding some judgement. But we are citizen-soldiers, and that is the strength of the US armed forces. We come from the general populace, and return to the general populace when our enlistment is up. Diversity started in the US armed forces with the passing of the 1947 National Security Act, which integrated the armed forces well before the Civil Rights Act. That is why most of the military does NOT support the Tea Partiers. They are racists who support removal of all rights for non-whites, whether thru immigration laws such as the new Arizona law, or the reduction or elimination of many federal benefits (such as education) that benefit non-whites. They hide behind buzzwords such as 'take our country back', and think they are the real patriots. And they almost all have the nerve to call themselves Christians. I sure have not seen or heard much Christ-like statements from these folks.

Posted by: cpusss | July 2, 2010 9:19 AM
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I am dumbfounded when I hear people say that at first they thought the tea party might be a good thing, but that it turned out to be a bad thing. To me, it was obivously a moronic con from the start, fueled by racists feelings of people who can't wrap their heads around a black president and egged-on by mindwipes like Beck and Limbaugh. And please don't prentend that it has anything to do with the constitution. The only thing that the tea party types like about the constitution is the part about the right to bear arms.

Posted by: jb777 | July 2, 2010 9:13 AM
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Conservatives are evil, stupid, greedy and pure trash. Your make believe god would hate you all.

Posted by: porcelainproductions | July 2, 2010 8:50 AM
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The Founding Fathers were wealthy slave owners who wanted their freedom. The Tea Party wants to bring back slavery.

Posted by: jazzfan19605 | July 2, 2010 8:36 AM
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August 28th, Lincoln Memorial - see you there

Posted by: seawolfR | July 2, 2010 8:36 AM
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This is so close to the Whiskey Rebellion it’s uncanny... I would assume that the Founding fathers would have consider them traders to the development of a new country. It was at all cost with a new country we couldn’t have dissidents. Who really knows what they would be thinking right now my personal opinion? But I know with this new Rebaggers movement so called (Tea Party Group) it’s so hypocritical. If the Tea Party started when the Republicans were in office in the last 12 years I could have looked at them closely with their ideas and maybe would have significant impact?
I can agree with hand full of post above from; “Sirrabw & Apspa1.”

Posted by: Longbowan | July 2, 2010 8:25 AM
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Its ironic Colonel and cadet that you say the tea party lacks direction and is racist, have you looked at the White House leadership lately. What are your opinions about that leadership?

Posted by: 1hooah | July 2, 2010 8:24 AM
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This is so close to the Whiskey Rebellion it’s uncanny... I would assume that the Founding fathers would have consider them traders to the development of a new country. It was at all cost with a new country we couldn’t have dissidents. Who really knows what they would be thinking right now my personal opinion? But I know with this new Rebaggers movement so called (Tea Party Group) it’s so hypocritical. If the Tea Party started when the Republicans were in office in the last 12 years I could have looked at them closely with their ideas and maybe would have significant impact?
I can agree with hand full of post above from; “Sirrabw & Apspa1.”

Posted by: Longbowan | July 2, 2010 8:23 AM
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Another "objective" article trashing the Tea party movement. I suggest the Post rename itself to "Washington Pravda" which would more accurately reflect the Post's objectivity.

Posted by: SSTK34 | July 2, 2010 8:06 AM
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I've read a number of excuses for why the Party lacks leadership, but it seems even casual observers recognize that as a problem. RiverMama (among others) also see it as a traveling carneval accompanying a Flea Market for various products (t-shirts, books, bumperstickers). It is that too.

It is very profitable for some (Russo paid himself $1.5 million from the $4.4 million he raised with his 3 Bus Tours).

It's not that they don't want leadership. Palin was asked to become the leader (at both the convention and Beck's 912 shows) but turned that role down. She may have missed a great opportunity for a sequel to her 1st book.

Posted by: wmboyd | July 2, 2010 7:37 AM
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Although I’m not a dogmatic fan of today’s “Tea Party”, I would point out that the Founding Fathers were not on the cutting edge of the Revolutionary War which began as an ad hoc, reaction by the people of Lexington, Concord and surrounding towns of Massachusetts who for fifteen years had borne the brunt of the British Imperialism imposed upon them and the rest of the country by Parliament diktat, at sword point, which included the occupation and the closing of the Port of Boston.

Samuel Adams, [cousin of John Adams] was one of the ringleaders who instigated the Boston Tea Party and is said to have set the stage for the Boston Massacre, because he felt that such an inflammatory act was necessary to convince the rest of the country that the political issues such as "taxation without representation" were just the tip of the iceberg of the issue of freedom, and to show that “negotiations” without firepower were pointless.

It’s interesting to note that the people of Massachusetts effectively declared their independence over a year before the “leaders” in Philadelphia finally decided to declare theirs.

Were he alive, Thomas Jefferson would likely approve of the spirit if not necessarily every position taken by today’s, “Tea Party”.

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure." [letter to William Stephens Smith, November 13, 1787]

Posted by: samscram1 | July 2, 2010 7:34 AM
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I strongly suspect those denigrating the movement here have compiled their info from the big 3 media outlets or the ComPost. They certainly don't speak as if they have ever talked to a single Tea Partier or gone to any rally. The conviction with which they speak about things they clearly do not understand is staggering. I think it their fervent wish the movement loses steam and goes away. Doesn't it usually seem that the very things the left screech about are the things they fear the most?

Posted by: theduck6 | July 2, 2010 7:31 AM
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Let's do a thought experiment. You are an employee of a business, small or large. Do you want one of these people as your supervisor? Do you want one to be in charge of the business you depend on for a paycheck. Another: You are an employee. Do you want these people working for you?

Posted by: sirach | July 2, 2010 7:18 AM
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In 1776 they had smart people in charge!

Posted by: GarrisonLiberty | July 2, 2010 7:08 AM
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A legitimate protest movement has been co-opted by racists, hate mongers, and other right wing extremists whose only goal is for our President to fail. Without relevant and reasoned solutions, this movement will be the creator of its own demise.

Posted by: Denny_98 | July 2, 2010 7:01 AM
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I was initially energized by The Tea Party until I realized that race was the undelying issue, and that it became a magnet for every other disgruntled racist who wanted to latch on to the movement, hiding behind the party's anti-Washington platform....too bad, it could have been a special movement.

Posted by: jpb0914 | July 2, 2010 6:45 AM
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I believe the Tea Party does have an agenda and a message, but it is so very self-centered that they dare not speak it out loud. When they should have erupted was during the Bush/Cheney Administration when everything we are now suffering reach fever pitch. Because it is a Republican organization, began by Dick Armey it's claims at dissatisfaction are suspect at best. Furthermore, since they have been identified as largely Republican, white, and well to do, and seem not to want what is best for all Americans, but only their ilk, it would lead me to believe that they are simply angry that Barack Obama is in the White House. The claim is that they are against health care reform. Why, when they can afford to pay for the best care. They claim it is about immigration -- when we are a nation of immigrants. The truth is, they feel change on the horizon, and fear somehow that their wealth will be taken away. It would be interesting to see the contents of the mail they send to their constituents. I'll bet it has to do with their fear of the helm being assumed by other than whites. It is why they are so-called pro life. Their numbers are dwindling, and the only way to quell it is to destroy Roe v. Wade. Notice how though the law has not been repealed, opponents of the law are eking away at it bit by bit, state by state, until soon it will be a law in name only. What kind of democracy is it when women do not have control of their own bodies. It is fear of the pendulum swinging away from them that they are fighting, but they lack the courage to say it. By virtue of who the Tea Party is comprised of, their message rings loud and clear.

Posted by: SierraBW | July 2, 2010 2:46 AM
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Wow, I am impressed by Colonel Kail and Cadet Goodgame's forceful and clear statements. Are there other soldiers like them? I am very impressed.

Posted by: DavidH3 | July 1, 2010 11:59 PM
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But this is what I don't understand - the comparison between current Tea Party and the "American patriot anger fomenting in 1770." The hyperbole needed to make that comparison -- between the rule of a tyrant in a colony denied any representation and a democratic country with plentiful representation and far less taxation than other countries, or even our own for much of our history -- is what drowns out any sense the Tea Partiers might make. The debate about how much or how little government, taxation, states rights, immigration, policing, etc. we have as a nation is vital; the histrionics are distracting and reveal a gross lack of perspective.

A good place to start would be to not define "patriot" as only people who share your opinions.

Posted by: minorthread | July 1, 2010 10:42 PM
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Protest movements can be very important and influential and, from time to time and depending upon circumstances, actually strongly positive in our national life. When they occupy the moral and intellectual high ground they can be unstoppable (think women's suffrage and civil rights).

But I see precious little moral and intellectual high ground in the tea party at present (e.g., although I neither hate nor fear Sarah Palin, a darling of the tea partiers, I see an anti-intellectual and morally myopic pandering politician).

And nihilism is no program for governing.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | July 1, 2010 9:10 PM
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The Tea Party, as it stands, is incapable of of organizing itself or providing any form of leadership.

The positions and grievances its members and leaders (yes it does have leaders-but they are not there to lead but to get rich) espouse are incoherent when considered on the whole.

And it is that very lack of coherence that is the only reason continues to exist. But it is not reason enough for it to sustain itself.

It will, as the public debate over the critical issues facing us continues and develops, begin to turn on itself and disappear in an orgy of political self-cannibalism (the latest attack on Sen. Lindsay Graham an example of things to come).

Another sign of collapse is that the Tea Party convention in Las Vegas was canceled because Sharron Angle could not, as a national candidate, attend as scheduled and say the things she would be expected to say while she also could not cancel because the Tea Party would attack her for selling out. The Tea Party leaders, independent though they claim to be, caved to the greater power of the GOP in their frantic need to put make-up on Angle's right-wing fanaticism that is so dear to many Tea Party-ers.

What will rise out of the ashes we shall see but ashes there will be!

Posted by: apspa1 | July 1, 2010 8:18 PM
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My son and his friend went to a Tea Party rally in Tulsa. They were disappointed. It has become just a big, commercial enterprise. Most of the speakers were there to sell something. Most of the booths were there to sell something. Speeches were plugs for books. Is it a movement or just another way to make money?

Posted by: rivermama | July 1, 2010 8:13 PM
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How did this party start? By whom or what PR/Lobby firm? When did this party start?

Look at when these cluckings started, look carefully and honestly. They attempt to associate themselves with 1776 but fail due to the answers to the above questions.

The answers to these questions tell you about the nascent nature of the party and its agenda. It has leaders, they are truthers, birthers, racists, opportunists, demagogs, anti-gay, anti-brown, anti-everything.

How do you govern should the American center hand them power? These nutbags spend all their efforts hating and defining themselves but what they oppose. This is not a party, this is a collective temper tantrum.

I'm disappointed that you really don't understand leadership and perhaps are being taught more politicking than "follow-me". You will learn, as I have, that leadership is not about just vision, but being respected. You will have authority based on you rank, but darlings, you MUST earn respect. When the chips are down, your troops must simply trust that you have their best interest at heart and that you care enough to sacrifice your life for theirs should the situation arise.

Take that and judge the tea party and you see it falls significantly short. Short on morals, consistency, and vision (other than vague constitutional musings). My suggestion, go back to the books and shame on the instructors for allowing you to post this drivel.

Posted by: mjcc1987 | July 1, 2010 8:08 PM
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Of course the Tea Party lacks leadership, but what two posters fail to understand from the opinion pieces is that without leadership the movement will not only fail but someone will fill the vacuum and it may not be the right person.

Right now, the Republican Party is acting as the de facto leadership. Is that what the Tea Party aspires to?

Being a grass roots movement is a double-edged sword. Without leaders the message gets lost and the movement will fail or corrupt and manipulative leadership with fill the void. Find leaders and you are no longer a grass roots movement.

They need to figure it out.

Posted by: arancia12 | July 1, 2010 6:49 PM
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They don't need or want a leader they are doing wonderfuly without one.

Posted by: samuellenn | July 1, 2010 6:02 PM
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It's not a matter of leadership, it's a matter of solution to America's problems that require more than bumper stickers.
Get with it tea party. Stop complaining and do something.

Posted by: larsonlk | July 1, 2010 5:15 PM
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It's not a matter of leadership, it's a matter of solution to America's problems that require more than bumper stickers.
Get with it tea party. Stop complaining and do something.

Posted by: larsonlk | July 1, 2010 5:14 PM
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Col Kail completely misunderstands the nature of the Tea Party. Of course it has leadership issues - its a grass roots reaction to big govt, not an organized political party. It isn't the Founders in 1776, it's American patriot anger fomenting in 1770.

Leadership and organization will follow, depending upon what happens in DC - if the equivalent of the "British are coming" keeps occuring, a new Adams and Jefferson will surely emerge.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | July 1, 2010 4:08 PM
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