The Wilson County Tea Party, which has been among the most active county Tea Party groups in Tennessee, has announced that they are disbanding, it emerged in the press Monday morning. The primary reason for the breakup of the group would seem to be that the time has come to pass the buck to new leadership, but that new leadership seems to be nowhere to be found. Sherrie Orange, who organized the group, apparently said in an e-mail that “everyone in this core group is tired,” and that they could no longer continue running the organization. As a result, Orange said “we have decided to disband the WCTP effective immediately.”
This writer has had occasion to have encounters or contacts at various levels with lots of people in this State who fancied themselves to be “Tea Party” leaders, but many of these people didn’t know anything about politics or how to work with people in power, and it often showed. Unlike other States that have had better leadership and organization, many local Tea Party groups in Tennessee suffered from the problem of leaders who knew nothing about how the State’s political system works, and many have done nothing but manage to make fools of themselves while thinking that all of their hollering was accomplishing some positive good. Such a negative impression has not been the case at all in this writer’s correspondence with Sherrie Orange. Orange has always struck me as sharp, quick-witted, very politically astute, extremely intelligent, and highly knowledgeable about Tennessee’s political system, history, and heritage. She is the very kind of person who is dangerous to the political establishment because she knows what she is doing and she is extremely effective.
What many people outside of politics don’t realize is that the vast majority of people who are involved in politics or political movements are people who volunteer their time for the betterment of their community, State, and our country. Most people turn on the television and see their major elected officials or candidates and think that this is what politics is about. Behind every successful candidate is an army of nameless and faceless volunteers and party workers who do it because they believe in “the cause.” Behind every political movement, there are volunteers who give of their time and energies because they are fighting for something they deeply believe in. Those of us who have been involved know that there is no glory in real politics, just hard work and the knowledge that maybe you’ve accomplished a few little things that will be of some good to your community and to the next generation. People are involved because they enjoy it, not because there is much in it for them. Even among those people fortunate enough to hold elected office, few could make a living at it on the pittance most of them get, and fewer still believe that they should (most won’t ever be elected to Congress, remember-most political leaders never hold anything higher than a local office).
That is political reality, and when you give freely of your time, at some point in the lives of most people that time is no longer there to give. Folks have lives, families, responsibilities, and religious obligations they also have to be concerned with, and for the really decent people in politics, there is very little question about what things are more important. Hence, when the times comes to pass the gavel, put away the microphone, put down the pen, or pass on the office, you want to trust that new people will come in and give of their time for the sake of the community. It is not a positive testimony to the State of our society when we have a generation of volunteers ready to “pass it on down” with no one to pass it down to-and that isn’t merely a “Tea Party” problem.