April 16, 2010

The Tea Party's Outreach

Carroll Andrew Morse

One theme that was repeated at yesterday's Tax-Day Tea Party rally was that the Tea Party can only be successful over the long term, if it continues to grow itself by reaching out to others...

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Colleen's outreach would be better received if she didn't try to divide union members from their leadership, a disingenuous tactic that appeals to few union members. Those who go for that kind of rhetoric curse their union leaders while reaping the benefits of their efforts.

Posted by: michael at April 16, 2010 11:33 AM


I'd offer two items in response...

1. Specifically regarding Colleen Conley, she's also been critical of the leadership of Rhode Island's nominal-right, for not energetically-enough representing the interests of their supporters. Her attitude that regular folks have to make themselves heard, to make sure the leaders of organizations stay honest, isn't confined to unions.

2. When any organization, whether it's a private company, government agency, or union, gets big, it becomes all too easy for the top leadership to lose the connection to the real needs of its members, and run off after their own big-stage agenda. This has pretty clearly happened in RI, where the union leaders at the state-level have married themselves to left-wing progressivism, even when that might not reflect what lots of union members would choose, or what is in the best set of policies for their members in the long term.

The point is, union members don't have to bind themselves to everything that the guys at the top are doing, and should have the same right as everyone else does to participate in multiple civic channels, especially regarding the big things that affect us all as citizens. A union member can stand proudly with his or her Local, without being expected to fall in-line (or even be silent) on issues like E-verify or expanding the state sales tax.

Posted by: Andrew at April 17, 2010 1:56 PM

Agreed, Andrew. I for one have never been silent about issues such as immigration, English as the official language, unionizing day care workers and others. I've never been criticized by my local, or asked to tone it down. Nobody I know of is forced into anything, we are free to speak our minds and vote however we choose. A few of our members have run for office-as Republicans.

I was a vocal supporter of the Tea Party last year, wrote a blog post supporting the movement ( my blog is read mostly by union firefighters and EMT's, I think) and was thanked for my support by the most anti-union talk show personality there is, John Dipietro being given star status as a spokesperson for the Tea Party. His show consistently insults and degrades members of my profession. Steve Laffey is another anti-union person given high status within the RI Tea Party.

My soapbox is wearing out, but one more thing; most people, union members or not don't know or care about any of this. The vast majority of Rhode Islanders are unaware of anything but their own lives and struggles.

Posted by: michael at April 17, 2010 3:20 PM
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