Last weekend, my family and friends and I attended the Tea Party Leadership Conference in Dallas, TX. The planning was intense, the energy was contagious, the leaders were very, very serious. This movement is being handled well, utilizing the organizational structure that Ken Emanuelson pegged as a “starfish” rather than a “spider.” There are many leaders and cells–too many to count. This design is necessary due to the predisposition of the MSM (main stream media) to seek the head of any conservative group, and chop it off.
Conservatives are getting smarter–outsmarting the MSM again and again. While “legendary” MSM’rs are being laid off and news giants are sinking like raindrops on the ocean, the new media is growing exponentially. Conservatives are becoming the newsmakers, the camera crew, the reporters, the analysts, the candidates, and the techno-gurus that will lead in the new era of politics. That was much of the focus of the meeting in Dallas.
This weekend, my family and friends and I attended the first ever Tea Party Convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The energy was electric! More than 600 delegates from across the country, more than 1100 guests for Governor Palin’s speech, and more press than I have ever seen assembled in one place. Press were from all over the world. Interestingly, while our MSM still takes pot shots at the Tea Party saying we “won’t be around” after the 2010 elections, or beyond, it seems the rest of the World sees it differently.
I have attended numerous Republican Party conventions and this convention was a very different tone. Most notably, there were no long speeches by a cadre of politicians. Additionally, attendees were so drenched in press requests that it was hard to make it into the actual convention. Lastly, this is a diverse group (sorry, MSM). I met Cuban Americans, Black people, Puerto Rican Americans, Asian Americans, old and young, and many women–especially moms. There were half a dozen sales booths peddling books, jewelry, and t shirts.
During an interview with an Italian news paper, the reporter asked me how it is that everyone in the Tea Party is so “on message.” I told him I don’t know, because I don’t. We had no preparatory white sheet or press release. We simply believe what we believe. We are on point not because we are well rehearsed with tag lines and sound bites, but because it is our values that unite us—economic freedom, limited government, and National sovereignty.
The Tea Party has taken on the core values of both parties. The conservatives in both parties unite over the above issues, and I think the Tea Party exists to remind both parties of that fact, to hold them accountable, and to lead where they won’t.
The rest of the world sees that our political landscape is forever changed by the Tea Party, and rather than deny it, they are covering it, and getting ratings and sales doing so. Every major media outlet was there from the US and abroad. Time magazine did an impromptu photo shoot of my daughter, Lyda (co-leader of the Tea Party Youth) and me, and interviewed each of us separately about “the movement.” The media numbers were doubled by the conservative and internet outlets there, many of whom have been our mouthpieces as we have birthed and grown this movement.
Unlike other conventions I have attended, my husband, a former Missouri State Senator (R-MO, ret.) was one of the only politicians in the convention. This is probably because John (biggovernment.com, nothingbuttruth.com, taxpayerwatchdogmo.blogspot.com) has been there since the birth of the Tea Party, quietly supporting all we were doing, while other politicians waited to see if we were legitimate. I did meet Adam Andrzejwski that just finished his heroic run for Governor in Illinois, a man running for Congress, and a woman running for something else. But the politicians are generally not invited, and when they come, they are generally treated with skepticism. The Tea Party doesn’t trust sitting politicians, and takes a critical look at candidates talking the talk. If it were up to the Tea Party, I believe the days of “Royalty” for politicians would be over in this Country. The Tea Party gets that these people work FOR US, and treats them accordingly. They are polite, even cordial, but there is no “OH! There is Senator ______________! See if he wants to come up and say a few words.” Rather, when an elected official walks in, ordinarily a whispered warning goes out in the crowd…”Senator _____________ just came in. See what he wants. Let him know that he will find no special treatment, microphones, or cameras here.”
It was interesting to me that even though the crowd cheered Governor Palin during her speech, that fawning reverence was just not there. Maybe 10-20 (out of 1,000) people rushed the stage for autographs afterward (I was one of them) and my guess is that most of them are recovering republicans who still treat politicians with awe and grandeur.
Outside the convention hall people talked and schemed, and kept a watchful eye on the MSM. We had cameras filming THEIR cameras, and our media following THEM around, asking questions. This is our sport. One of our most savvy actually took photos of a hack job a MSM reporter was writing about Sarah Palin BEFORE she even gave her speech! The reporter left her seat at a table to grab something, and left her lousy journalism up on her computer. These are the moments that make us sizzle like a drop of water on a hot tin roof!
Ahhh…yes. The “intense factioning going on in the Tea Party might be its demise” claims the MSM. Good luck with that. The democrat led Tennessee folks who had a problem with the “Capitalism” happening at this convention (God Bless America!) held a “large protest.” Three people attended, and were apologizing to Michelle Moore (A Traditional Life Lived), Dana Loesch (danaradio.com, biggovernment.com, PJ-TV) and myself when they ultimately left with their proverbial tails between their legs. They realized that they are united with us, and that this was a local squabble that had nothing to do with the Nationwide Tea Party.
Then there were the “protesters.” They make for great sport, too! Our group was having lunch when we got word that the “Protestors” were in the convention hall. We dropped our forks and moved straight out to give them some fun. The only problem was, they met their match in protestors. See, we in the Tea Party have become master protestors (thank you, Mr. Alinksky). We are so good, in fact, that the other side doesn’t seem to want to compete. Is it that, or is it simply they have no grounds for argument, because our values are in line with reality? Well, whatever the reason, the moment they saw us coming they practically ran out of the convention hall. So we went back to the little Irish pub and continued our Rarebit and ale.
Other notable moments were nightlife related. Each night, when activities ended for the day, a core group of informal, non-exclusive leaders would retire to a local watering hole. We all sat together and enjoyed the days’ events, recent headlines, and always brainstorming for the future of our beloved movement. One by one, reporters would try to mingle into our group. Immediately the whisper warnings, texts, and other inside alert systems would warn us that there was a stranger in our midst. The fun part was what we did next. We had a blast creating great mystery, false controversy, and dead end rabbit trails to send these reporters into a frenzy or wild goose chase. Then we would sit back and enjoy our spoils. The reporters would be wise to leave us alone. Again, WE have become citizen reporters, and many of us are quite talented in that arena. Some new, bubbly, young hire for a liberal newspaper is no match in her undercover efforts to “find dirt” on us.
The sad fact is we are pretty clean living. We are honest. We are normal, hard working Americans who decided that taking back our country for our children was more important than watching the latest episode of “Lost” or pursuit of personal gain. We are not there to hurt anyone but if they cross us or try to hurt us, we mobilize quickly, and they will get what is coming to them. We have learned their tricks, and we are better at them now than they are, in some cases. The biggest difference I see between “us” and “them” is that we have fun. We laugh until we can’t even breathe anymore, and we look for the best in one another, instead of competing for the air at the top of the tank or getting tripped up over petty differences. When there is no leader, everyone is a leader, and that lends itself to a great sense of ownership and camaraderie.
The weekend was filled with heroes, and none of them were politicians or party bosses. They were people like Joe Basel, who was arrested with James O’Keefe for his phone prank on Senator Mary Landrieu when she refused to speak with constituents who PAY for those phones, and the office she uses every day! Heroes like Michelle Moore (smartgirlpolitics.com) who spoke at the convention on “Women in Politics” and is the best Camera Woman in the business, and Katie O’Malley, a blogger, femme-patriot media warrior that you do NOT want to cross! Heroes like Andrew Breitbart (biggovernment.com, Breitbarttv.com, bighollywood.com, breitbart.com) who have revolutionized the media culture in this era, and Andrew Marcus, and Maura Flynn, and Mike and his whole team there who meticulously covered the weekend and kept all the loose ends together for all of us. Heroes like Jon Burns (campusgulag.org) who created Campus Gulag to educate students about the lies of communism, and college eradication of free speech. Heroes like the arguably first conservative blogger, and still one of the top in the world, Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit.com, PJ-TV), and his amazing wife, Dr. Helen, and their beautiful daughter. Also, our own amazing top blogger Jim Hoft (gatewaypundit.firstthings.com), who I think more of each day that I know him. Heroes like the great people (Judson & Sherrie Phillips, Mark Skoda, Katie O’Malley, Chip, and others) who organized and planned the weekend, and those who attended. Personal, very special heroes to me like Bill Hennessy and Dana Loesch and my husband, John Loudon, who stood with me and led back when the MSM was audibly scoffing at us for trying to start something real.
Without a doubt, the most interesting hero was the face of a woman–the one and only beautiful, smart, and oh so deliciously common Sarah Palin. The highlight for my family was that we had the honor of little Piper Palin making a b-line to our son, Samuel, who has Down Syndrome just like her little brother, Trig. She played and played with him, and then after the event she was so sweet that she had her mother call me to say thank you.
I will be continuing my political efforts as part of an amazing team fighting for the Tea Party. I am encouraged by the MSM’s predictions that we will simply “go away.” That is right where we want them. At the end of the weekend, I took a “Second Revolution” American Flag that a wonderful Tea Party fan (Jeff McQueen, the creator of the flag www.USRevolution2.com) gave to me, and I had everyone in our leadership group sign it. I did that because I knew I was experiencing history, and that my childrens’ children would want to have that flag one day.
Very late last night as we sat enjoying the camaraderie that can only come after a hard fought battle, John asked Bill Hennessy when he knew this movement was historic. He told of the 9/12 weekend in Quincy, IL that Chip and company pulled together. When he came down to breakfast in our hotel the morning after the 9/12 Tea Party there, he said that he walked up to a table of Andrew Breitbart, Glenn Reynolds, Jim Hoft, Dana Loesch, Michelle Moore and others, side by side in the restaurant, computers open, writing the news for that day. He knew that their fingers were tapping what the reporters would be saying that night. That was the moment he knew that we were part of something huge–much bigger than ourselves, much more historic collectively than any of us would be individually.
One day, when the history books tell about a cold, huddled mass under the St. Louis Arch with tea bags and bull horns, who began a movement that echoed across the nation, and the world. One day, when my children will know that they were there when we started, and that we cared enough to fight for their futures, even if it cost us dearly. One day, when the world remembers that freedom is not, and never will be free, and that all free citizens have to be willing to risk everything to keep it.
That is a tall order, but when you stand in the presence of those there, sharing ideas, fighting within the family for what they believe will be best for this movement, spending time, money, political capitol, and all they have just to be in this fight for no glory, then you know that this is a solid movement that will be here as long as there is a need for it.
This morning, I sat on my hotel room balcony, sipping my coffee with cream and taking in the beauty of the Garden Conservatory of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for the first time all weekend, since I had been to busy to stop and enjoy it. I saw many new friends and old from the weekend as they made their way across the skywalk to the checkout in the other dome. I put my computer down to visit with Carl Cameron (Fox News) for the second time as he made his way out of the hotel. Then I saw Brit Hume, from Fox News as well, and Roy Moore holding court in a cafe below. Finally, one of the organizers quietly walked across the bridge on his way out, carrying his luggage, looking as content as a lion after a kill. I couldn’t resist. I yelled across the atrium and told him I was writing about the weekend. “What’s your takeaway? What will the history books say?” I asked. His answer was simple.
“We changed the World!” he shouted, with his fist in the air.