There’s an image in my head that makes me smile: It’s when Clay Shirky decides to write the second edition of Here Comes Everybody, and realizes that he can’t get around writing about the Tea Party movement as the perfect illustration of “organizing without organizations”.
My own interest in the Tea Party movement is not so much their relevance to American politics, but this: Given some people who feel unease, anger and disgust with the political mainstream of their country, but don’t have the left’s traditions of grassroots mobilization to build on, how do you cause change to happen?
Because that’s me. If Norway’s public sphere is like a friendly gettogether, with everyone chatting quietly, confident in their shared vision of the world, I’m the guy staring out the window, thinking “there has to be a way to smash all this”. But I don’t know how.
The Tea Party movement is one of the data points I’m interested in. They started with that same feeling, and are possibly achieving .. something. This book explains how some of them see the world – with a bias towards the authors’ own organization FreedomWorks. They present the movement as the marriage of fiscal conservatism with the organization tactics of the mid-20th century radical Saul Alinsky. Their goal is to reinvent the Republican party, one elected official at a time.
Who knows if it will work, but this is the most interesting political phenomenon I’m aware of at the moment. A new type of politics, with unexplored possibilities.