The Tea Party Is a Giant Political Starfish

| 9/14/2010 1:44:44 PM


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. 

: National Journal 

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.

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.

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