I've seen this before.
Last year I attended a local Tea Party rally, and reported on it here. At that time I noted that the original Tea Party (now called the Tea Party Patriots, or TP Network) was founded by Libertarians, but had caught the interest of Conservatives who were trying to move in on it.
Well, today the move-in is complete; there are no less than three groups calling themselves the Tea Party, all of them distinctly different. The original Libertarian TP Patriots/Network are still primarily concerned with oversized and bloated govt., and are coalescing around the idea of a Ron Paul/Herman Cain GOP ticket for the 2012 elections. Then there's the purely Conservative group, the TP Nation; they're more concerned with "moral" issues, like Gay marriage, abortion, drugs, and so on. Finally there's the TP Express, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican party -- particularly the old troglodyte NeoCon wing -- who provide a cheering-section for GOP candidates like Bachmann and Perry. The last one, of course, is what most of the media think of as THE Tea Party -- and despise, loudly.
It would be hard to find a more effective way to discredit and derail a grassroots political movement.
Right now there's another grassroots movement -- Occupy Wall Street -- which is getting the same treatment. The media are currently censoring footage so as to depict the OWS as all-White, brainless, totally unfocussed and probably being steered by "big labor". The OWS members, of course, have no clue how to deal with this.
The problem with grassroots movements is that they tend to be politically naive, and therefore are easily infiltrated, sidetracked and slandered into oblivion.
I wish that every Political Science course in every college (and, hopefully, high school), Masters degree program, and wherever else kids go for political eduation in the country would teach prospective reformers the basics of how to handle infiltrators, provocateurs, takeovers, media slandering, and other tactics of govt., media, and other defenders of the status quo. For one thing, before ever you go out and organize your first public demonstration, write up a clear charter of what your group is about, what it believes and doesn't believe, what its goals are, and just who you'll accept as members -- and who you won't. Then print up some difficult-to-counterfeit membership cards, and keep careful records of whom you give them to. This may slow recruiting, but it does draw a clear division between wannabees and "card-carrying members". It also allows you to sue for slander anybody who calls himself a "movement leader" but whose positions are 'way different from what the charter says.
The way to deal with deliberate provocateurs and discrediters who show up at your public demonstrations is to point at them and yell, loudly, "Imposter! Imposter!" This will draw the attention of the media, who would otherwise gleefully concentrate on the provos.
I learned of an actual case of planned public discrediting from a friend (who shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons) who's a professional actor. I'll tell his whole tale in my next blog entry, since it's a little too long to fit in here.
Anyone with additional ideas, please feel free to volunteer them.
--Leslie <;)))>< Fish