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In the long run, the faces I saw in Atlanta represent a potentially potent new constituency for fiscal discipline and government restraint. Compositionally, this is the same voting block that showed up to vote for the very first time in 1994 in reaction to the big government overreaches of the Clinton Administration, throwing House Democrats out after 40 years of policy hegemony.
I don't believe that the official Republican apparatus can effectively organize these voters for 2010. Indeed, the very nature of the tea parties defies top-down direction. The protests, just like the free market process they tacitly espoused, were decentralized and driven by voluntary action. But as Saul Alinsky might tell you, activists need to stay active. Many of the most effective organizations and community leaders that emerged from the tea party movement have already gathered behind a March on Washington on September 12, 2009. Other efforts will add more structure to the tea party communities, and perhaps target some grassroots pressure towards particular politicians during specific legislative battles over socialized health care, higher spending, and other big government schemes.
Who knows, next November those protestors might just show up to vote against the politicians who dismissed the tea party revolt of 2009 as "AstroTurf."
Viva La Revolución!
Matt Kibbe is President of FreedomWorks Foundation.