Tea Party Rift

As reported here several days ago, a rift has opened among the Rhode Island Tea Party leadership. Two of the conservative group's lead organizers, Colleen Conley and Nan Hayden, made it official Monday when they voted out the third member of the leadership - Marina Peterson.

"It was one, two, three," Peterson tells N4N. "The meeting lasted 18 minutes and that was it."

Peterson, who plans to remain active in conservative advocacy, says Conley and Hayden did not provide a reason for the vote. But she suspects that her focus on national affairs may have played a role. Conley has focused more on Rhode Island issues.

Peterson also hints, obliquely, at a deeper philosophical divide in a recent e-mail to tea party types.

It's not about who is right or wrong here, it's about perception, interpretations and strategies.

I found a story in a book recently that I would like to share. It falls under the Caption "We Have Different Information".

Doug took his four-year-old nephew Andrew, to watch a homecoming parade. Sitting on his uncle's shoulders, Andrew shouted with delight as football players, cheerleaders, and the school band rolled by on lavish floats. Afterward Andrew exclaimed, "That was the best truck parade I've ever seen!"

Each float, it seems was pulled by a truck. Andrew, truck obsessed as he was, saw nothing else. His Uncle Doug, truck indifferent, hadn't noticed a single truck. In a sense, Andrew and his uncle watched completely different parades.

Like Doug and Andrew, what we notice has to do with who are and what we care about. The Tea Party Movement is multi-faceted and there are many different strategies to accomplish our many goals, all working towards preserving our freedom.

But Peterson insists this is not evidence of an implosion. "The Tea Party cannot implode because it's a movement, it's not an organization," she said.

Decentralization may, indeed, be a strength for the Tea Party. An emerging network of town-based committees can continue their work, no matter what happens on the state level. But as the Rhode Island Tea Party attempts to move from protest movement to political force, a lack of focus could prove a real problem for a group that already faces long odds in a heavily Democratic state.

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