By Anonymous (not verified) on January 14, 2013

Members of various tea party groups took over two floors of the Springmaid Beach Resort hotel in Myrtle Beach, a South Carolina tourist trap in the offseason, for a weekend dedicated to recharging a movement that's sputtering nationwide.

"We need God to get through this," the event's organizer, a jowled Tea Party Patriots coordinator named Joe Dugan, told a crowd of several hundred. Homemade signs leaned against the chair legs of an audience that was mostly elderly and almost 100 percent white. "What will get America out of its dilemma is resurrect McCarthy's hearings," read one of the signs.

In opening remarks, Dugan said speakers would take the gloves off, and he promised to "take political correctness and put it in a ditch and bury it."

That was evident downstairs as an older man in sunglasses perused vendor tables wearing an air-brushed anti-Obamacare t-shirt with an image that depicted the president as a witchdoctor with a bone through his nose. (When a blogger snapped a photo and interviewed the man, organizers took umbrage at the publicity.)

The tea party convention came at a time when polls show a hemorrhaging of support for the modern backlash movement. It also comes amid a civil war at FreedomWorks -- a sponsor of the convention -- and after the GOP's conservative conference smashed to splinters on the rocks of reality during negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff.

But Jim DeMint told the crowd in a video address in a hotel convention room that his was not a time to despair but "a time to get to work."

DeMint was the most right-wing member of the U.S Senate until he abruptly resigned earlier this month to run the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Themes at the 2013 tea party convention centered on the same dark prophecies fringe conservatives pushed in the run-up to Obama's re-election: warnings about encroaching Sharia Law, , the United Nations, and Obama's health care reform act.

Betty Blanton, a small grey-haired woman in glasses, walked up to see what such a young man was doing at a tea party convention -- and if he'd learning anything from it. She worried that young people aren't as alarmed as they should be about Sharia Law and said to remember this conversation in 20 years when Islam has infiltrated much of American life. She worried about how many mosques have been built after Obama's election. Because mosques, she says, "are where the terrorists start."

If the tea party has learned anything, perhaps it's about the movement's relationship with the media. Fringe extremism makes for bad headlines and fuels narratives unproductive to the movement's goals.

When conservative author Ron McNeil hit a fever pitch during his speech and started calling for a revolt -- he mentioned secession, and perhaps turning over Fort Sumter to a patriot militia -- organizer Dugan cut him off, taking the mic and assuring the crowd such talk was out of bounds.

What isn't?

Referring to the Democratic administration as tyrannical, calling progressive ideology "insane," as one speaker did, and maligning the news media.

Dugan complained that the tea party didn't "have the money to get our message out when the whole press is working as part of the Obama Administration.

One issue tea party groups are pushing in 2013 that hasn't been on their front burner in recent years are Second Amendment rights in the wake of progressive responses to mass shootings. In a convention speech, conservative columnist John Fund called gun issues the third-rail of American politics, and welcomed Democrats to touch it.

DeMint's replacement in the U.S. Senate also threw down the gauntlet.

"Anyone who believes an executive order somehow someway is available to tackle the Second Amendment," said Tim Scott, "you've got a fight coming."

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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