Way back in February, a right-wing group called Tea Party Nation organized its first national event, hosting a convention in Nashville. It wasn't especially well attended -- despite paying former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) a reported $100,000, only about 600 people showed up.
So, organizers decided to give it another shot, scheduling the National Tea Party Unity convention for July. Just two weeks before its kickoff, organizers announced that the Unity event had been postponed until October 14.
Of course, that's less than a month away. How's the event shaping up? As Raven Brooks discovered, it's not.
[M]y first stop was a Google search to find their web site. I found it, but this link should speak for itself. Check out nationalteapartyconvention.com. Oh you got a page not found error? Well there's nothing wrong with your browser, the site doesn't exist anymore. And there's absolutely zero media or blog coverage of the event since they announced the dates were changing. Not really what you'd expect for an event featuring Sharron Angle, Lou Dobbs, Joseph Farah, and Andrew Breitbart is it?
Well it gets better. I wanted to make sure the convention really was canceled and they weren't just having web issues or neglected to do any PR for their event. So I put in a call to the Mirage hotel and asked if I could book a room in their block for the event. Turns out the room block had been canceled and the Mirage had no record of the event.
In other words, it's another bust. Tea Party Nation has now tried three times to organize a national convention for activists, and it's failed three times.
I think the larger lesson here is that there is such a thing as too many gatherings. This so-called "movement" has no formal leadership, structure, agenda, or membership -- which in turn makes organizing kind of tricky -- but it keeps scheduling event after event. Some are billed as Tea Party rallies, while others are just rallies for Tea Partiers, but looking back over the last 17 months or so, the number of get-togethers intended to be national in scope has to be well over a dozen.
Is it any wonder that gathering fatigue has set in? I've never even heard of a movement trying to organize so many national events in such close proximity to one another, and actually expecting folks to show up.