Most agree that that capitalizing upon the momentum generated by an estimated 2,500 tea parties nationwide on April 15 would be of great benefit to the GOP. But whether or not those efforts should be centrally coordinated – or if they are even able to be centrally coordinated – is a matter of hot debate.
Some, like Drew Ryun, board member at a political training institute called American Majority, are using the tea party movement to get more people on board for future political work – benefitting not only the conservative movement, but their particular organization.
“We love the fact that there was a lot of passion out there, we’re seeing conservatives rally and protest, which is something conservatives don’t do,” said Ryun. “The question when we return to the community is ‘now what?’”
Ryun’s answer is for enthusiasts to sign up on AM’s website, aftertheteaparty.com, which serves as a portal for AM campaign workshops. It has garnered 2,000 email addresses since Wednesday.
Mike Leahy, co-founder of the organization Top Conservatives on Twitter, wants supporters to attend eight other tea parties leading up to the next presidential election. He says that the April 15 tea party efforts are the direct result of TCOT and three other groups, and that multi-protest master plan was a “strategy from the beginning.”
“Our four grassroots organizations organized the entire day through a combination of communications and conference calls, providing centralized information that allowed for what it looks like 900 local leaders to organize their own tea parties,” he said.
Leahy’s groups did manage the website used for much of the tea party organizing – taxdayteaparty.com. But J. Peter Freire, managing editor for the American Spectator magazine and one of the main organizers for the DC tea party, said that website was the only benefit of those groups’ coordination.
“The only central organizing factor that was worthwhile was the one website that could coordinate things,” he said. “There’s a long history of creating organizations just for the sake of creating organizations, and sometimes that can be prohibitive to citizen involvement.”
Freire thought the main point of the tax day tea parties was to promote grassroots activism that didn’t come from any one person or group.
“I think that what’s most important is getting regular citizens and taxpayers to show up at Townhall meetings and start saying ‘stop spending out money.’ I don’t know how an organization would do that,” he said.