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The Tea Party Is a Giant Political Starfish

9/14/2010 1:44:44 PM

Tags: Tea Party, Republican Party, Conservatism, Jonathan Rauch, Politics, National Journal, Will Wlizlo

Starfish 

As a starfish blindly ambles across the sea floor, its five arms grope independently of each other. Instead of being controlled by a central brain, each limb has its own compartmentalized nervous system that can communicate with the others. Capturing food, escaping from predators, and locating a mate are processes that rely on a fine balance of collaboration and independence. On account of its decentralized biology, argues National Journal’s Jonathan Rauch, a starfish is a fitting analogy for the Tea Party.

What Rauch is alluding to is a political tack called radical decentralization. He contends:

In American politics, radical decentralization has never been tried on so large a scale. Tea party activists believe that their hivelike, ‘organized but not organized’ (as one calls it) structure is their signal innovation and secret weapon, the key to outlasting and outmaneuvering traditional political organizations and interest groups. They intend to rewrite the rule book for political organizing, turning decades of established practice upside down. If they succeed, or even half succeed, the tea party's most important legacy may be organizational, not political. 

One of the Tea Party’s greatest strengths is that it lacks a central figure who calls the shots for the entire movement. “The network is impervious to decapitation,” Rauch writes. 

No foolish or self-serving boss can wreck it, because it has no boss. Fragmentation, the bane of traditional organizations, actually makes the network stronger. It is like a starfish: Cut off an arm, and it grows (in some species) into a new starfish. Result: two starfish, where before there was just one. 

In the following video, Rauch elaborates on the starfish analogy—including how the Tea Party’s decentralized tactics may clash with the Republican Party’s traditional command structure. 


Source
: National Journal 

Image by Ed Bierman, licensed under Creative Commons. 



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casslakedog
1/12/2011 10:04:30 AM
It could be that many folks who call themselves Tea Partiers don't know that the movement is paid for by billionaires - such as Charles Koch of Kansas. They might not realize that these very very rich people are acting to protect their sources of income - the sale of oil, weapons and other things. They might not know that they are being manipulated by the people with money - to do the bidding of the Kochs and others like them. It's too bad.

Matthew G. Miller
10/8/2010 2:10:44 PM
And for the exact same reasons -- seemingly disorganized organization, collective response to oppression, decentralization, charismatic but dispensable leadership -- we find the success of al-Qaida, another organization we are finding difficult to pinpoint, counter and defeat.

Brianz
9/17/2010 4:47:18 PM
The Tea party is no starfish because that would be insulting to the real starfish. What we have here is a republican ploy where bought and paid for pseudo-organizers or party hacks circulate among partisan people to rally them into supporting the republican fundamentalist agenda and causes that serves to divide and to conquer them into believing that the above republican fortunate sons in power or who want gain power are looking after the needs of the common people instead of what they are actually doing to politically dumb them down by exploiting their vulnerability et ethnocentricity. Hopefully investigative journalists will one day write the true story behind this republican and fundamentalist scam called the Tea Party or and the Beck Party. While we the people are being led to believe an illusion that some kind of an economic black hole is siphoning up all the money and creating monetary scarcity, the politicos are all out there as usual out spending each other by millions of dollars to get elected, CEO’s are enhancing their salaries with bonuses and lavish retirement packages and tons of money are being spent on wars and political and corporate parties. While this is going on, we have Tea partiers begrudging themselves, their peers and all citizens from having their basic needs met in health care, education and social services. These partisan Tea partiers border insanity and seem to have no connection to reality and what is actually going on while they are raving and ranting about Obama, hence proving once again that you can fool most of the partisan people all of the time.

Occum
9/16/2010 10:34:42 AM
Two items to consider when speaking Tea Party movement. First you must define WHO is leading the country. There is an old saying "it is better to own a politician than to be one." Politicians are merely an instrument of "the people." Corporations are considered people. People with lots of money. Then, of course, there are private citizens (1%) of the population that are wealthy enough to have incredible influence also. I'm not certain I hear a lot of Tea party talk aimed at these elements, however, I notice alot of discussion about talking points which are as not understood by the average citizen let alone the people who vote on them. Secondly, Tea Partiers may want to steer clear of the starfish analogy. Although it seems like a bonifide idea it is also the adopted method of the terrosist organizations we are currently fighting in The War on Terror. It is part of the dynamic that is not allowing the necessary factions to become united enough for a common government. These are tricky issues that have exsisted in all recorded history. I applaud the Tea Partiers for the desire to want a government of the people and beleive they need to take the measured steps our forefathers did when developing a nation as great as the United States.

LBG
9/16/2010 4:41:47 AM
Jonathan has it exactly right! That is the beauty of the Tea Party. We are-"We the people" and we are serious about cleaning house and we mean it! We don't care what party you may be in-if the party in power isn't leading this country correctly it will be gone. So, if it leans too far left or too far right-consider this a warning-"You can be replaced" and we are starting to do so soon. This is America and both parties should remember we pay the bills and massive spending and entitlement programs are definitely not cutting it with (We the People). Healthcare as it is written is a sham-and we are not going to forget what you folks did to half of this country and it's citizens when we wanted to have meaningful discussions and you told us to kiss off!

LBG
9/16/2010 4:40:54 AM
Jonathan has it exactly right! That is the beauty of the Tea Party. We are-"We the people" and we are serious about cleaning house and we mean it! We don't care what party you may be in-if the party in power isn't leading this country correctly it will be gone. So, if it leans too far left or too far right-consider this a warning-"You can be replaced" and we are starting to do so soon. This is America and both parties should remember we pay the bills and massive spending and entitlement programs are definitely not cutting it with (We the People). Healthcare as it is written is a sham-and we are not going to forget what you folks did to half of this country and it's citizens when we wanted to have meaningful discussions and you told us to kiss off!






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