As I’ve noted several times already, the social conservatives in the Religious Right have been trying desperately to associate themselves with the Tea Party movement, even though Tea Party activists have been uninterested in making issues like abortion or gay rights a key part of the movement’s agenda.
This, in turn, has lead some Religious Right activists to try and hijack the Tea Party name and attach it to his own Religious Right agenda, while others has tried to partner with the fiscal conservatives leading the Tea Party movement, even though they have been on less-than-friendly terms in recent years.
Now comes news that several local Tea Party groups are forming a federation with several established national groups in order to better coordinate strategy:
Several tea party leaders announced plans Thursday to form a national federation to promote the movement’s conservative message and to counter the idea that the tea parties are politically unsophisticated and disorganized.
Tea party leaders from Memphis, Tenn., Richmond, Va., and Orlando, Fla., along with representatives of several other groups announced the new National Tea Party Federation during a rally outside the Minnesota Capitol. They said 21 tea party groups around the nation had joined the federation.
Memphis Tea Party founder Mark Skoda said recent media coverage had questioned whether the conservative tea parties, which number in the thousands nationwide, were too loosely organized to be politically effective in the national midterm election. He said the federation intends to convey a unified message about the tea party’s brand of fiscal conservatism, which emphasizes limited government, less public spending and free markets.
He said the organization also hopes to rebut allegations about the movement: “Everything from calling the tea party members racist, that we are violent, that somehow we are fermenting another Kristallnacht. These accusations are indeed false and they won’t stand.”
The organizers said that the federation does not intend to direct activities by the farflung groups, but to improve communications among them, along with affiliate groups such as Americans for Tax Reform, Let Freedom Ring and Citizens United.
Now it makes sense that local Tea Party groups would partner with national groups that share their agenda … but look who else has joined this federation:
One of the affiliated organizations, the Family Research Council, works primarily to oppose abortion rights and gay marriage. Skoda said the tea party movement would not make those issues part if its core mission but could still find points of common ground with conservative social-issue groups.
“The family needs to have low tax rates, choice on health care, no mandate on health care, and the automony to make decisions. The family is an important part of our strategy,” Skoda said.
So to the extent that issues like taxes and health care can be considered “pro-family” issues, the Tea Party activists are fine to partner with the likes of FRC, but they won’t be taking on the contentious social issues that are FRC’s primary focus.
Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that FRC was complaining that groups like FreedomWorks and the other libertarian organization’s did not represent the “true tea parties” because the “real” Tea Parties cared about social issues?
If so, why as FRC now joined up with all those libertarian Tea Party organizations when they have been explicitly told that their social issues will have no place on the agenda?