If you need evidence that the Tea Party movement is made up of grassroots, neophyte activists, look no further than this email invitation sent out on Friday by the Jefferson Area Tea Party, which is based in the Charlottesville area.
If the amateurishness of this email message is not immediately apparent, don't worry that you've missed it. It took me several minutes to figure it out.
A truly professional operation -- the alleged "grass tops" that exercise cynical control over the Tea Parties from some undisclosed hideaway in Washington -- would never have let this pass, because a basic piece of information is missing.
Did you figure it out yet?
The invitation to the rally does not tell recipients of the message where they should go to protest Congressman Tom Perriello.
Yes, it does say "Carysbrook Performing Arts Center," but unless you live in Fluvanna County or near Fork Union (where the Carysbrook Center stands), you're unlikely to know where it's located. I had to look it up on Google, and even then got the impression that it was near Lake Monticello. (Maybe it's near both places; my sense of rural geography is not well-formed.)
I can imagine that other Tea Partiers from Albemarle, Greene, and Nelson counties, as well as from the city of Charlottesville, scratched their heads in ignorance. How many would have bothered to look up the name of the performing arts center to learn where they should be on Saturday morning?
It's a simple rule of political activism: Spoon feed the troops with information as much as you spoon feed the media. They're not going to bother to find out for themselves what you should be telling them in the first place.
The accusations of top-down manipulation of the Tea Party are clearly misdirected. Professional political operatives don't make these kinds of basic mistakes.