Across the country, they are signing up to be Republican precinct leaders . . . which comes with the ability to vote for the party executives who endorse candidates, approve platforms and decide where the party spends money.
-- From "In Power Push, Movement Sees Base in G.O.P." by Kate Zernike, New York Times 1/14/10
A new group called the National Precinct Alliance says it has a coordinator in nearly every state to recruit Tea Party activists to fill the positions and has already swelled the number of like-minded members in Republican Party committees in Arizona and Nevada. Its mantra is this: take the precinct, take the state, take the party — and force it to nominate conservatives rather than people they see as liberals in Republican clothing.
The Tea Party movement, named after the original tax revolt in 1773, might be better described as a diverse, rambunctious and Internet-connected network of groups, powered by grass-roots anxiety about the economy, bailouts and increasing government involvement in health care. At one extreme are militia members who have shown up at meetings wearing guns and suggesting that institutions like the Federal Reserve be eliminated. At the other are those like Ms. Przybylski, who describes herself as “just a stay-at-home mom” who became agitated about the federal stimulus package.
And if the Democrats are big-government socialists, the Republicans, in the Tea Party mind, are enablers.
. . . a growing number of activists argue that the best way to translate anger into influence is to infiltrate the Republican establishment (Democrats being, for the average Tea Partier, beyond redemption).
The defining experience for many Tea Party groups was the special election in the 23rd Congressional District of New York in November, where party leaders chose a candidate whom conservatives viewed as a Republican in name only — she supported same-sex marriage, abortion rights and the federal stimulus package. After activists flooded the district to support a conservative third-party candidate, the Republican dropped out and endorsed the Democrat, who won.
Conservatives took the Republican retreat as a victory, but also saw the power of the party structure in deciding who the candidates will be. The rallying cry for more local involvement has been “No more NY-23’s.”
The precinct strategy, like the Tea Party movement itself, has spread via the Internet, on sites like Resistnet.com. A National Tea Party Convention in Nashville next month will feature seminars on how to take over starting at the precinct level.
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