Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard
AKA The Militant Moderate
In the vernacular of New Orleans Saints’ fans, we might be prone to raise the question: “Who ‘dem Tea Party goers?” And, as compared to the famous car commercial of the olden days, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile,” we could say, “These are not the same tea-baggers you last saw in a town near you.”
Television provides us with repetitive images from which we sort to choose those which represent groups of people or even ideas. Television has provided us with images of tea-baggers. There was that one lady who reminded us of Cousin Minnie Pearl of Grand ‘Ole Opry fame. She had tea-bags hanging from the brim of her hat, reminiscent of Cousin Minnie’s price tags hanging from her hat and clothes. Then there was that slouchy militia, red-neck type carrying an anti-Obama sign in one hand and a rifle in the other.
But, no, the tea party at the fancy Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort was not that so-called populist movement of tea-baggers we saw rallying here and there around the country, wherever a crowd was already gathered. However, the rhetoric sounded pretty much the same.
To begin with, that Gaylord hotel is a rather fancy place, and it costs money to stay there. It also costs money to get there. The registration fee for the tea party was $549, plus an extra $350 to attend the dinner to hear Sarah Palin speak to earn her $100,000 fee. This tea party carried a price tag of somewhere near $2,000 a person for a really big party experience. One might say that eliminated that riff-raff, populist bunch.
While the sponsorship of the Nashville tea party convention was a “for-profit” organization, that is not really all that different either. The whole tea party and tea-bagger “grass-roots” movement has had its wealthy and corporate sponsors providing the money and paying for the organizing of their “spontaneous” events, bus tours, and celebrations.