Goal: Provocation of personal reflection and interpersonal communication
1. What started out as a "bubbling up from the bottom - grassroots movement" otherwise sometimes referred to in generic ways as "Tea Party," "Patriot," or "Citizens Groups" critical of big government establishment political parties, has gradually been morphing into process oriented, top-down managed organizations that are a mirror image of what they originally purported to oppose.
2. Group leaders increasingly tend to restrict rather than encourage the free exchange of ideas that promote healthy discussion and debate.
3. Leaders too frequently are looking to establish a name for themselves or have a personal agenda that relates to building a "contact list" designed for future use as a political candidate.
4. Leadership tightly controls access to membership lists so that others in the group have a very limited ability to communicate with each other outside of the official group meeting time/place. This does not lead to the formation of a community - it defeats it.
5. The biggest egos dominate all group meetings/interactions thus discouraging or intimidating other members wishing to contribute. This creates a hostile atmosphere limiting attendance, enthusiasm, and willingness of less naturally assertive members to contribute ideas.
Having co-founded a community citizen group in my town more than 20 years ago - before email or Face Book - which flourished for several years and acquired a membership at its zenith of over 800 households, I have learned a number of things. All of them came from the free exchange of ideas under very lax rules of engagement often with neighbors who held views that differed significantly from mine. This is how we learn. This is how we learn to develop the rationale for ideas, for the very thought process itself. This is how we grow, mature, and think. This is how we become acquainted with ourselves and others. This is how we attract similarly or dissimilarly minded to a coalescence that results in a whole greater than just the sum of its parts.
To operate any group, whether political, fraternal, or activist, in any other way just pushes folks into their respective passive corners where the implied message from above is to "sit down, shut up, and listen." This is why increasing numbers of regular people with busy lives, work/family concerns and limited free time, have tuned-out, given up, and now don't even show up at the polls. They simply see only distinctions without differences. For those of you in the "Patriot" movement who claim to believe in the value of individual liberty, I submit it is time for a paradigm shift lest you become what you abhor.
Comments welcomed and encouraged. Engage with one another or divorce. You must choose one!