Late last week at a stop on the Tea Party Express, 21 Tea Party groups and 20 other conservative groups announced the formation of the National Tea Party Federation. For months, the media has continually dismissed the Tea Party movement as a fringe element of the Republican party while simultaneously discussing how much impact the movement will have on local, state, and national elections in November. President Obama has even said that the Tea Party has some legitimate, mainstream concerns. All the while, most Tea Party leaders have consistently said that they do not want to start a third political party. No doubt the formation of this new Federation will stir that pot again.
So is the National Tea Party Federation (NTPF) the first step to third party status? Leaders of the new Federation have issued a resounding, “No.” “The National Tea Party Federation is a broad coalition of national and regional Tea Party groups that have come together to allow for clarity of message, rapid response to media misinformation while continuing to build the brand equity of the Tea Party movement at the local and regional level.” It is intended to facilitate communication between Tea Party groups throughout the country. They will also “act as a clearing house and to prepare leadership to promote the Tea Party movement’s objectives of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets.”
Within the new federation, all Tea Party groups will remain independent and autonomous. There will be no formal legal structure, no single leader, no national spokesman, and no fundraising…all characteristics that distinguish this group from a third political party.
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