Free Markets, Free People

National Tea Party Convention running into problems

Since it’s in my backyard, I’ve been curious about the national Tea Party Convention scheduled for Nashville from February 6 to February 8.

My initial hope was to do some coverage of it for QandO, perhaps with some video. I contacted the organizer Judson Phillips, who politely let me know that press credentials were extremely limited. Undeterred, I replied, asking if I would be allowed to do video and such if I paid the rather large entrance fee ($549). No answer, I’m afraid, probably because right after that inquiry the event sold out.

I didn’t take it askance, because I’m sure he’s got his hands full. And I fully understand his desire to have some measure of control over press coverage, given the often biased coverage of Tea Party events in the legacy media.

This morning I noticed that he also turned down Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit). That was downright silly. If I had to choose one person with the right combination of strong understanding of the Tea Party cause and a very large megaphone, it would be Glenn.

Glenn pointed to an article on Politico detailing the trevails faced by the organizer. The event was intended to be for-profit, which apparently Judson didn’t work very hard to communicate to the sponsors, one of which pulled out after learning the details.

The for-profit thing seems to have run into trouble too, as it appears that despite selling out, the event might lose money. It makes me wonder how much experience the organizer has. I’ve done events with several hundred people. It takes massive amounts of planning. Getting the details right can be costly and staggering in terms of time. Plus he’s picked the Opryland Hotel, where I have a bit of past experience. They are expensive, and are they charge for things you might not expect; I wouldn’t be surprised to see a line item on their invoice for air breathed by the attendees.

It appears that part of the problem is a contradiction at the heart of the event. It’s billed as a “working convention”, which implies that it’s not about getting publicity. But having Sarah Palin as a headliner pretty much guarantees a lot of attention. Given that the attention will be there no matter what, if I were the organizer, I’d be working hard to make it favorable. Sympathetic bloggers such as Glenn are an obvious way to do that.

I want to see the Tea Party movement do well. I also recognize that the generally amateur nature of the movement has been a part of its charm, because it contrasts so strongly with the dreary professionals who dominate politics.

But the downside of amateur efforts is the potential for mistakes that pros wouldn’t make. I think we’re seeing some of them in this case. Given the distaste of the legacy media (and legacy politicians) for the Tea Party movement, they’ll use any opportunity to make it look bad. I’m afraid this national convention is shaping up to be just such an opportunity.


7 Responses to National Tea Party Convention running into problems

  • The Tea Party movement belongs in the streets of Washington D.C. this spring or summer in as many millions as can get there, meaning that every means of transportation should be jammed back into the countryside.

    My preference is that as many as can enter the Capitol and tear every stick of furniture out of the two chambers and burn it outside, but I realize that I’ll probably have to settle for less than that, which is already less than the active scaffolds they deserve.

  • I don’t think its just an amateur problem.  I see opportunists jumping in.  Some for money and some for bringing power to their pet projects or worse.

  • Another tax day march would be cool.  I’d have tried to go to this convention, but we’re headed to Jamaica for the week.
    I’ve helped organize a small convention, around 100-150 people.  It was difficult, and I had 4 people sorta helping me.  But the main thing was making it affordable and fun.
    Couldn’t agree with this post more.

  • Well, they cannot stop anyone from just buying a ticket, going in, and covering it that way. Of course I don’t know of any reporters who still have the skills to do that, maybe some old timers.

  • America, founded on individual freedom, had local government no more than one day’s horseback ride from the governed. 19th century Democrats ran on individual and state’s sovereignty.  Laws on behavior moved to the Federal government away from local and state government. The tradition of local control was never lost, from the town hall meetings to Vigilante movements were citizens concerned with the way they were governed and took action to right the wrongs.  The Tea Party Movement is an example of citizen participation against governing elite far from people. However, 20th century Democrats declared Tea Parties vigilante mobs. America’s founding traditions are cited in The Changing Face of Democrats, Our Lost Libertarian Roots, on

  • I have a question?
    Who are the organizers and how are they organized?