Tea Parties and Dirty Laundry

A Tea Party leader in Florida wrote over the weekend that he will no longer work with the leadership of the national Tea Party group Tea Party Patriots after TPP declined to join a new Tea Party Federation, and, while this in itself is not news, his complaint about Tea Party "egos" points to the sometimes fractious nature of the movement, and the difficulties involved in its smooth perpetuation.

The National Tea Party Federation was launched two weeks ago as an umbrella group, including Tea Party Express and the Tea Party Patriots-allied group FreedomWorks, to coordinate "a unified message and media response amongst key leadership and their affiliates."

Tea Party Patriots, which facilitates coordination between local and regional Tea Party groups, and which claims to represent 15 million members nationwide, did not join.

Robin Stublen, who leads the Punta Gorda Tea Party in Punda Gorda, Florida suggested that TPP's refusal to join was an "ego thing" and wrote that:
Since I have joined the Tea Party Federation I have become an outcast. I have been called a traitor and worse. It is for that reason that two weeks ago I informed the board in a conference call that I will continue to relay information to my Tea Party Patriot group, however, I will no longer work within the leadership until they realize that this movement is bigger, better, smarter and more important than a few board members and their personal feelings.

Much of Stublen's blog post amounts to an airing of dirty laundry about TPP, none of which I have verified independently. So keep that in mind. I have no reason to think Stublen would make any of this up out of thin air, but remember that none of it has been verified by third-party reporting. Stublen, obviously, is displeased with TPP at the time of its writing. If TPP feels it appropriate to respond, I will be happy to add their comments to this post.

(I will say, however, that the impression of "bad blood" between TPP and Tea Party Express is not surprising; criticism has been lobbed from Tea Party Patriots at other corners of the Tea Party movement before, most notably Tea Party Nation, which organized the convention in Nashville at which Sarah Palin spoke.)

The potential veracity of Stublen's individual complaints are not the reason this post is interesting, to me anyway. His decision to disaffiliate from TPP, and to voice those complaints, indicates something about the Tea Party movement that has become evident to close observers: Tea Party activists disagree about a lot of things. There is conflict inherent in the process of assembling passionate people, some of them with big personalities, working for a political movement that already involves so much discontent. There are lots of contradictory ideas about how things should be done. Not everyone gets along. We don't always see it, but here it is.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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