Arizona Federation of Taxpayers (AFP) is the biggest Tea Party organizer in Arizona. Their priorities are listed on their issues page:
This week has been a bad one for conservatives who opposed the state tax increase. Proposition 100 passed by an overwhelming majority of 65% to 35%, with a margin of more than 200,000 voters. The tax is a one cent sales tax, which works out to be an 18% increase. Tax revenue is expected to be about $1 billion, which is the amount the federal government owes the state for imprisoning criminal illegal aliens. At best the tax will only serve to delay the day of reckoning with the looming deficit. The much ballyhooed AFP and the Tea Parties in Arizona not only failed to stop the tax increase — they got a worse whooping than the Los Suns basketball team got from the LA Lakers. Ouch!
The Tea Parties in Arizona were exposed as impotent and did almost nothing to stop this lame excuse for a regressive tax on poor consumers. Small businesses complained that the tax say will wreck an already weak economy but even that wasn't enough to motivate the Tea Party into action. The TP couldn’t even muster together a few people to make an argument against the tax in the voter ballot guide.
Filing an argument isn't difficult to do, but the Tea Party couldn't manage even that most basic of tasks. Anyone can file an argument providing they pay $75 and file it before the deadline. Arguments are published inside a booklet that is mailed to every eligible voter so they are a powerful way of influencing the vote and to promoting organizations.
Don Goldwater, Chairman of the PAChyderm Coalition, and Tom Jenney, chairman of the AFP, made good arguments in the voter ballot guide, but it’s rather conspicuous that they didn’t list the Tea Party as one of their organizations — even though both of them have publicly been big supporters of the Tea Party. Neither of them mentioned that the tax increase wouldn't be necessary if illegal aliens were not allowed to attend our schools, and if criminal prisoners were deported instead of being given food, free health care, and shelter. In other venues Goldwater doesn't hesitate to talk about the costs of illegal immigration but he passed on this very important opportunity.
So, why was the Arizona Tea Party rendered so hapless in a battle that should have been their bread-and-butter issue, and one that would seem an easy win in a conservative state? The answer is one word: IMMIGRATION!
The Tea Party in Arizona got off to a promising start on its Arizona inauguration day, but the signs of dissension became immediately obvious. While the grass roots people who attended what was called the "Tax Day Tea Party Protest" brought immigration protest signs, the leaders avoided the topic. The strategy the leaders had decided on for future meetings became way too obvious for the crowds of attendees — avoid immigration but keep the people activated to fight any taxes that might affect the rich ruling oligarchy.
Meetings and rallies were held but the crowds dwindled as fast as the immigration signs disappeared. Widespread suspicion spread that the founders of the Tea Party were Libertarians and neo-cons in disguise who support open border policies.
When the National Tea Party endorsed neo-cons like John McCain, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey etc. it became obvious to everyone in Arizona that the Tea Party was playing political games to rally activists on tax reductions, while all the time avoiding the immigration issue. Loyal Many Tea Party loyalists got on the bandwagon to boot McCain out of office but they began to suspect that the organization were allies with the McCain campaign. Palin may have been the last straw but the Tea Party was splitting long before she came on the scene.
The Tea Party in Arizona began to fracture into tiny local chapters. A national umbrella organization called the Tea Party Patriots lists dozens of Arizona affiliates, and judging by the number throughout the nation this is a trend that is accelerating. The TPP registered as a non-profit organization so now they are paralyzed from taking direct political action in order to influence political campaigns or to change legislation.
The recent election in Arizona demonstrated that the Tea Party is not capable of working together for a single cause. Because of their non-profit status they won't be able to affect elections or lobby, which means that it will be very easy for politicians to ignore them.
This blog by an unknown author provides an excellent analysis that explains how irrelevant the Tea Party is becoming.
POLITICO reports that the leaders of four of Arizona’s largest Tea Party groups have issued a joint statement in which they announced they are withholding endorsements in the Arizona U.S. Senate race.
It appears the leaders have not been paying sufficient attention to what former Congressman J.D. Hayworth stands for, since he has long embraced the constitutional principles now backed by the Tea Party movement. The groups are making themselves irrelevant by not taking a position in this crucial election. They say they stand for limited government, free markets and fiscal responsibility. So does J. D. Hayworth.
By not endorsing Hayworth – the anti-McCain — they are, in effect giving their support to John McCain’s reelection bid.
Fence sitting does not equate to relevance. In order to exert influence it is imperative that a position be taken. That might be uncomfortable, but it gives credibility to those who want to wield authority.
This disappointing display of waffling diminishes the groups that have become integral with carrying the grassroots banner. The movement has been warmly welcomed by conservative Republicans. By stating they are non-political, they are ignoring the fact that winning elections are part of the two-party – not Tea Party – system.