First impressions from the Tea Party Patriots Policy Summit are that the 2,000-plus attendees are older than CPAC-goers, and much more focused on policy than personalities. I don’t think the Donald would rock the house here. Too many TPPers know the Aaron Burr story far too well.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was very wise to agree to keynote the gathering, and future meetings of TPP — the most vibrant, transparent and authentic branch of the broader movement — should be “must makes” for GOP House leaders even though they know that the movement believes their first pass at serious budget-cutting is viewed as a half-swing and a miss.
As Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler, two co-founders of the group, told me on air Friday, they are disappointed but resolute. The self-organizing and selfless activists from around the country did not march across 2009 and 2010 to victory on Nov. 2 for the purpose of abandoning their agenda to long-serving appropriators of either party.
Nor is this a group to limit itself to old solutions in familiar packages. Its HealthCareCompact.org initiative, for example, is aimed not only to increase the political pressure to roll back Obamacare via state action, but also to renew and re-educate activists on the basic constitutional structure of dual sovereignty as expressed in the often-used but still largely unknown state compact process. This is serious policy wonkery, but deeply appealing to a new generation of grass-roots volunteers.
That new generation, by the way, has one large element which is definitely past 55, and in those numbers are the seeds of a revolution. AARP has long masqueraded as the friend of senior citizens in America while pushing a growth-of-government agenda that is now leading as night follows day to the destruction of the value of the dollar, the unleashing of inflation that ruins lives on fixed incomes, and an energy policy that holds Americans hostage to soaring gas prices.
AARP’s brand was so badly damaged by its sell-out on Obamacare that it has taken to peddling NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon as its new face, much to the amusement of the two racing fans I dined with after the first day of the summit.
“Gordon’s the only liberal among all the drivers,” one summit attendee said. “The gear heads all know this, and they know AARP’s as fake as John Kerry when the Massachusetts senator showed up at a NASCAR race in 2004 and got booed.”
All of the TPP attendees know this, as do all of the Tea Party affiliates and members and spin-offs or parallel groups across the country. AARP is like the Titanic after it hit the iceberg but before anyone did a damage assessment. It really is doomed to sink because it is at war with the people it is supposed to serve.
The legions of agenda-carrying, seminar-attending TPPers who have crossed their own, personal 50-yard line may have AARP cards in their wallets, but as new groups such as the Association of Mature American Citizens gain traction and thousands of new members every month the only reason to belong to AARP — group discounts on insurance programs and various other goods and services — vanishes.
The national network of seniors is quickly absorbing all the technologies of communication typically identified with the young, but gramps and grams are using them to push demands for serious reform of the government before that government swallows their life work and destroys the inheritance intended for beloved grandchildren.
AARP, like the public employee unions, has yet to realize that the new media has destroyed its ability to bend messages from what the public knows to what the special interests want them to focus on.
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