While the public employee unions were watching their big day fizzle, the Tea Party Patriots Summit in Phoenix rolled through a great day of speakers, seminars and networking of the sort that characterizes most happy conventions.
The coordinators of the day, Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler managed the traffic flow on stage and the comings-and-goings from room to room with ease and enthusiasm, and the line-up followed a predictable but useful path from Saturday morning home runs from folks like Foster Friess to the keynote by Tim Pawlenty through later-in-the-day fun from folks like high school student Caleb Yee who will get many return invitations as the first-in-the-nation high school Tea Party activist.
Far more important than any particular speaker, straw poll, agenda item or breakout session was the general sense of momentum shared by the thousands participating in person (and one has to assume the thousands attending online.) The TPP is a young and dynamic group, and the energy of the movement that many expected to dissipate after November 2, 2010 hasn’t done anything but redouble. The significance of the Phoenix gathering is the demonstration of staying power and also of issue clarity –it is all about the size and cost of government, and the TPP is doing an excellent job of keeping its stream of activism focused and purposeful.
Every movement attracts wold-be hangers-on, but the organizers are a talented bunch, and while welcoming all, the collective mission is the core one of carving back the federal government, so while HealthCareCompact.org is a central feature of the gathering, you won’t see much immigration debate at a TPP event. This sort of relentless, focused messaging is crucial to the continued success of the movement and the continued expansion of its influence.
Most of the MSM missed the gathering, galloping off after clumps of union organizers on state house steps across the country. That is a very good thing for the TPP in some respects as it gets more time to network and grow its infrastructure without incessant demands from the MSM for demands from the TPP on the Beltway GOP. Like most significant players in the national debate, the TPP doesn’t need a list of demands, it needs and has the attention of lawmakers, an attention which is deserved and growing.