I was interested recently when various news organizations gave attention to “endorsements” announced by something claiming to be the Arkansas Tea Party. There’s just no way to know what that moniker represents beyond the crank who sent out the news release.

So now the Washington Post has attempted to take the measure of the Tea Party with a canvass of every local tea party organization in the country. No doubt the people flying that banner have been influential this election season:


But a new Washington Post canvass of hundreds of local tea party groups reveals a different sort of organization, one that is not so much a movement as a disparate band of vaguely connected gatherings that do surprisingly little to engage in the political process.

… Seventy percent of the grass-roots groups said they have not participated in any political campaigning this year. As a whole, they have no official candidate slates, have not rallied behind any particular national leader, have little money on hand, and remain ambivalent about their goals and the political process in general.

They just want government off their damn lawn. But, the Post understates, the breadth of the tea party may have been inflated.

Now the big national Tea Party outfits, underwritten by people like the Koch boys, are another thing entirely because their money buys influence and it’s focused on an agenda. The financiers of this “movement” like government, as long as it runs the way they want it to run. Low taxes. Big expenditures on their private businesses. No environmental regulation. Etc.