Statements disavowing the ballot move have been issued by legions of Michigan Tea Party “leaders” who have taken a break from blaming the BP oil spill on President Obama to blaming (pick one) “liberals”, “liberal Democrats,” “the Democratic Party,” “Mark Brewer,” a “vast left-wing conspiracy” for the petition drive to establish a Michigan Tea Party political party for the November ballot.
But if we are to believe the so-called establishment Tea Party folks when they say they aren’t really, honestly shilling for the Republicans, then what’s the complaint about having an actual Tea Party? That would settle the question of their legitimacy as a real independent force once and for all, wouldn’t it? No one could ever again accuse them of being in bed with the Republican Party.
Unless, of course, the Tea Party is a distinction without a difference from the Republican Party, and the real goal of all this conservative activism is to build lists and a movement to elect Republicans this November.
But if Michigan’s Tea Party establishment isn’t interested in forming their own political party, maybe progressives ought to grab this opportunity for activist entrepreneurship. Assuming the Michigan Tea Party organizers (whoever they are) can collect the 38,000 petition signatures needed to form a political party and withstand the almost certain legal challenges, all progressives would have to do is show up in force at the legally required Tea Party nominating convention this summer.
Convention progressives could elect convention delegates who could then nominate Tea Party candidates for governor, Congress and other offices and those candidates would be on the ballot. Those are the rules under Michigan law for a new political party. No messy primaries involving voters. Just a nice, orderly process that can be done in a day at little cost.
Think of the possibilities. We could nominate a Bill Milliken, Geoffrey Fieger, Joe Schwarz – anyone we wanted – to head the top of the Tea Party ticket for Governor. Or go completely rogue and run a Cherry-Cherry ticket (John and Deb).
So what do you say? Since no one wants to claim ownership anyway of the new Michigan Tea Party, shouldn’t we give Tea Party voters a real choice this November?
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