I fear the Tea Party movement, which I regard as one of the healthiest phenomena in US politics today, is in danger of being taken over by the Republican 'establishment'. Politico reports:
If you’ve got fundraising muscle, it pays to be tea party.
That’s the takeaway from recently released financial reports for five of the biggest conservative groups that latched onto the small-government movement.
The groups — Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, Leadership Institute and Tea Party Express – raised $79 million last year. That’s a 61 percent increase from their haul in 2009, when the tea party first started gaining traction, and an 88 percent increase over their tally in 2008, according to a POLITICO review of campaign reports and newly released tax filings.
. . .
It’s an entirely different story for the ragtag local groups that form the heart of the tea party, which struggle to raise cash.
The imbalance is worrisome to some grass-roots tea party activists, who warn that the movement is at risk of becoming dependent on the type of centralized, top-down political structure that contributed to tea partiers’ distaste for both political parties, as well as Washington’s conservative establishment.
“There isn’t an unlimited pool of cash in the conservative movement, and my concern is that some of these big national groups are sucking up money that could otherwise go to the local tea party leaders who are the ones really making things happen on the ground,” said Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, a Washington area nonprofit group that helps local tea party leaders set up groups.
. . .
Some local tea party organizers privately told POLITICO that national groups have requested their member lists to send fundraising pitches. Others grumbled that the megagroups’ spending seems more geared toward supporting Washington’s political industry than boosting the grass-roots.
There's more at the link.
The same problem appears to be rearing its head on the left of the political spectrum, with the 'Occupy Wall Street' protestors currently staging demonstrations in many cities. I have no doubt many of them are genuinely angry (as am I!) at what the banksters of Wall Street have wrought with our economy. However, the increasing presence of trade unions (the major funding source for the Democratic Party) and allegations that George Soros and interest groups allied to his perspective are funding the demonstrators make me wonder how long it will be before professional politicians take over that movement too.
We have too many professional politicians. If we truly want 'power to the people', we need to kick the professionals out and elect new leaders from among the grass roots - leaders who haven't been corrupted by money and power, and who will resist that temptation. (For that reason, term limits are a Good Idea, I think.) I hope this happens on both the left and the right. Neither the Democratic or Republican parties are trustworthy, IMHO. The sooner we have some sound alternatives, the better.