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From the Archives: 'Beautiful chaos': FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe describes the Tea Party movement

'Beautiful chaos': FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe describes the Tea Party movement
September 3, 2010 2:30 PM MST

Glenn Beck showed some of the momentum of the Tea Party movement when he attracted tens of thousands of people to the Lincoln Memorial for a “non-political” rally with the theme “Restoring Honor” on August 28.

Another test of the Tea Party’s breadth and depth will occur on September 12 at the U.S. Capitol, when the second annual 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington is scheduled.

On of the groups organizing the 9/12 March is FreedomWorks, whose president, Matt Kibbe, recently wrote a book about the Tea Party Movement with coauthor Dick Armey, the former Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. Titled Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto, it was published August 17 by William Morrow.

Earlier this summer, Matt Kibbe spoke with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about the Tea Party Movement and where it’s going.

Two Characteristics
Matt Kibbe FreedomWorks Tea Party Rick Sincere
There are two aspects that characterize Tea Party activists, Kibbe said.

First, “they are new to politics and they’d always thought that politics wasn’t for them. They’d been sort of rationally opted out of that, so when you talk to them, they say, ‘I’ve never done this before.’”

Second, the Tea Party activists “tell you that the government is spending too much money it doesn’t have, it’s getting too involved in our lives, and that it’s out of control,” Kibbe explained, and they say, “’I had to show up, I had to participate; if I don’t participate, I have nothing to complain about.’”

Reflecting on whether the Tea Party movement will be a lasting political phenomenon, Kibbe suggested that “the most important test of the tea party movement is not November 2 but November 3.”

He foresees “a huge political impact” in the 2010 congressional elections, with the result that “we’re going to see huge turnover in politics, but the question is, Will they be organized on November 3 to hold this new generation of politicians accountable?”

That, he said, is the test.

Shared Values
Moreover, Kibbe continued, “what’s going to be different about this grass roots uprising from anything we’ve seen in the past” is that “they’re not just a protest movement. They’re actually a community of people with certain shared values that bind them together.”

The Tea Party will breed a new generation of political leaders whose names are not known to us yet, but who are learning political skills through their participation in the movement.

“What I like to say,” Kibbe explained, is that “the Tea Party has created this huge political stage and has created an incentive for a new generation of leaders to climb up on that stage and embrace those ideas and effectively represent them in the political realm. They’re all amateurs now, and that’s not a bad thing, but to win office, you’ve got to learn those skills” in order to win.

‘Beautiful Chaos’
The Tea Party movement is diffuse and “it’s very decentralized,” said Kibbe. “I like to call it ‘beautiful chaos.’ I say that with an understanding of Hayek’s notion of spontaneous order, that markets organize things in a semi-rational way even if it’s not planned, even if there’s no central authority like a Republican or Democratic party saying this is how you should do it.”

What’s more, Kibbe added, there is also “competition for tactics and ideas that you’re seeing now. I believe that the Tea Party activists are going to gravitate toward the best ideas.”

Ideas and tactics are being tested “right now,” Kibbe said, and “different people are going to have different views about where the Tea Party should go, but I believe the center of gravity is going to follow the best ideas.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on September 3, 2010. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

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