The tea party organizations have agreed to disagree, as far as speaking with a single voice is concerned.
Last week, a coalition of 23 tea party organizations announced the creation of the National Tea Party Federation to provide consistent messaging and communications. But one of the largest tea party organizations, Tea Party Patriots, indicated Monday it will not be joining the federation.
"We say 'good luck' finding that one leader," said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. "All Americans who hold dear our constitutionally protected principles of limited government are tea party leaders."
Ken Emanuelson, a tea party leader in Texas, says focusing the movement's message is a good idea. But he adds: "We do not believe, however, that any one group of person is -- or should be viewed as being -- the leader of a movement as diverse and far-flung as the tea party movement."
As a decentralized, grass-roots movement, the tea parties have been criticized at times for lacking a common voice. While all tea party groups emphasize free markets, Constitutional liberties, and fiscal restraint, each has its own agenda.
Those differences, combined with leadership disagreements that have been blown out of proportion by the mainstream media, have spawned a desire in some tea-party circles to exercise greater control over the movement's message, while also providing a clearinghouse for information. The National Tea Party Federation is the result.
Founding organizations of the Federation include Tea Party Express, Tea Party Nation, ResistNet, the American Grassroots Coalition, and DC Works for Us.
"We understand the importance of standing together while enhancing the ability to frame the discussion, and realize gains amongst this approach to collaboration," stated Jamie Radtke, chairman of the Richmond Tea Party, in announcing the Federation last week.
Those groups will not be joined by the mammoth Tea Party Patriots organization, however, which maintains over 1,700 state, city, and regional groups nationwide.
The leaders who have decided not to join the Federation are trying to be diplomatic about it.
"We support our friends and will continue to work with them," Austin tea party leader Greg Holloway tells Newsmax. "But we want the country to know that there are lots and lots of tea parties that are not part of the Federation. And we each speak with our own voice."
All of which suggests the tea party movement won't be speaking with a single voice anytime soon.
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