It’s an inevitable fact of American life that any successful endeavor will be met with a thousand rip-offs. That’s why we have eight hundred upcoming movies about vampires. It’s why there are dozens of television shows about the intricacies of decorating cakes. And it explains why Pearl Jam is at least partly to blame for Creed.
So it should surprise no one that the apparent success of the Tea Party has inspired other political groups to follow its playbook. But I was dismayed to find out that one of the potential copycats is a coalition of Latino leaders who are “floating the idea of breaking traditional ties with the Democratic Party and creating a grass-roots independent movement tentatively called the Tequila Party.”
I half-suspect that this strange idea is an Onion article that I somehow missed reading. But in the chance that it’s not, let me make a few observations.
Now, as I’ve written before, I’m not u-rah-rah supporter of the Democratic Party. How the organization continues to flounder — despite the fact that countless polls show Americans actually agree with its platform — is a mesmerizing monument to its incompetence.
However, I have to ask if the best strategy to deal with this disappointment is to emulate the tactics of a bunch of rage-filled rednecks. On principle, Latinos should say no to this approach. And in practicality, it’s not a good idea to take lessons from people who can’t spell basic words in their native language.
Yes, the Tea Party has been successful in the short term. However, it has alienated as many Americans as it invigorated.
Some of its most hardcore proponents — such as noted nutjob Sharron Angle – went down in flames. It will be interesting to see if the Tea Party has any kind of sustained influence. Personally, I doubt it.
More likely, it will be one of those huge pop-culture moments that people believe will land in history books, but will actually fall somewhere between disco and the OJ trial as lasting cultural markers.
In addition, the Tequila Party’s founders should keep in mind that one reason for the Tea Party’s success was the inherent power of its members. As I’ve written before, these were primarily older, white, financially secure members of the establishment. Any complaint, no matter how absurd or self-serving, was guaranteed media coverage (often of the fawning type).
Yes, Latinos are (and I haven’t made this point in days now) the fastest-growing demographic in America. But it’s unlikely that Hispanics can assemble the throngs that the Tea Party put together, just because we don’t have the numbers (yet). And even if we could, I find it hard to believe that any gathering of that many Hispanics would be met with anything other than tear gas.
Finally, let me point out the folly of this whole crusade, which is to pressure the Democratic Party to address Latino issues. It should be obvious to everybody by now that one cannot pressure Democrats to do anything or to take action — unless that action consists of folding under the slightest pressure. They’re pretty good at that. But forcing them to actually accomplish something on their agenda… well, that’s trickier.
In sum, I’m dubious about this Tequila Party idea. Perhaps our time would better be spent reaching out to moderate citizens (if any are left) to convince them of our good intentions, rather then shouting at an impotent political organization.
On the other hand, it might be nice to attend a rally where the signs are bilingual — and spelled correctly.