Tea Party movement splitting at the seams?

The Tea Party movement, which has made so many headlines in 2009, may be splitting apart, at least according to CNN. The movement is made up of a number of disparate local, state, and national groups, including action groups like FreedomWorks, which is chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, in addition to Americans for Prosperity, Tea Party Nation and Tea Party Patriots. Each group is vying for the helm of the Tea Party movement, creating what some are calling “competitive chaos.” There have been accusations from the left (and from within the Tea Party movement) that the powerful groups associated with the Tea Party movement are “astroturfing” what is supposed to be a grass-roots coalition:

“There are disagreements over the exact direction of the movement. There are some big battles between some of the national organizations happening,” said Brendan Steinhauser of FreedomWorks. “But ultimately I think 90 percent of the Tea Party movement — the grassroots members and state and national leaders — are all moving in the same direction. But there are certainly divisions that need to be worked out.”

In addition to the divisions created by the various groups involved with the Tea Party movement, there’s also the threat that fringe members of the movement will do more harm than good when it comes to the public perception of the Tea Party movement. While there’s no denying the vast majority of folks associated with the Tea Party movement are genuinely concerned about the direction of the country, there exists a very vocal group of extremists within the movement who see conspiracies around every corner and who aren’t afraid to use “colorful” rhetoric to express their displeasure with the president in specific and liberals in general.


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