Monday, May 11, 2009

(Updated) E Pluribus Pluribus - Tea Party Confusion

Updated: Chris Barkulis left a comment on our Guestbook about this post, which was originally published on May 11. Chris has his own blog, Right Not Wrong. On May 12, he wrote this: "Dead on about Odom. They should be looking for a central line to keep everything together. I don't feel leaving Facebook is the answer, but at the same time there needs to be a branching out with a concise message behind what they hope to achieve. He's seeing that there is no sense of unity because I'm sure each individual has their own take and opinion. The key is to construct those into points where people as a whole will still agree with and identify with the message. He'll never please all of the people all of the time." Original Post, May 12, 2009: God Bless Eric Odom. He's done yeoman's work on the Tea Party protests. God Help the tea party movements. They're entering a new phase of confusion and dissarray, and Odom just threw in another dose of both. There has been confusion already within the "Tea Party" culture from the start. Now, there promises to be more confusion and, with the confusion, splintering. Odom sent a rambling, 40-paragraph farewell message via Facebook on May 10. It which was meant (I'm sure) to encourage his followers. I believe it will have the opposite effect and will cause confusion and send a signal to other "tea party" groups that now is the time to position themselves as "leaders" and to follow their own schedules. Odom wrote, "This will be my last message to you as the Director of the DontGo Movement. Effective May 11th, 2009, Ken Marrero will become the Executive Director of the DontGo Movement for the final transitioning phase of the organization." You can read the full message, with comments, at "A few weeks ago," Odom wrote, "at, we asked you to share your ideas with us. Thousands of Americans submitted suggestions. We’ve read through a ton of them, and there seems to be a common thread: No sense of unity within the movement. We fully intend to change this." Way back on April 13, I wrote "Are Tea Parties Working? (Not Yet)," in which I noted the general disorganization within the anti-Stimulus, anti-Big Government movement at large. It was (and still is) hard for people to find information, as I noted a month ago, because there were a number of entities big and small that were vying for leadership in the "movement." I suppose I should be pleased that thousands of people agreed with me, but I'm not. I wish I had been wrong. I wish that there was more unity with the movement. There is, today, still no "central planning committee" for the tea party movement. As a result, there is no central point where people can find information. In the days before the April 15 Tax Day Tea Parties, I received a number of emails from people around the country asking where they could get information. They were not looking of Facebook, and why would they? DontGo is "transitioning." But transitioning to what? Odom's May 10 message is titled "The DontGo Movement is 'Moving On'." That gives the false impression that they've changed their name to "Moving On," but they haven't. We have to slog through 28 paragraphs before we find out that DontGo will now be "American Liberty Alliance." Well, almost now, kinda. Eight paragraphs later, Odom gets around to telling us that the American Liberty Alliance and all of its projects are set for a “soft launch” on June 15th, 2009. But wait, there's more. "The full scale launch," he wrote, "is set for July 1st, 2009." Huh? So they're now the ALA, kinda sorta, but not until June 15, sorta, but not really for real until July 1. We have to struggle through a very long memo to get this information. Does that seem like a "beautifully designed message" to you? And does it make sense to change the name, however awful it may be, right before the big July 4 tea party protests? (No, it does not.) Odom, 29, owns Fresh Vision Media, which specializes "in convening people in virtual space, promoting electronic collaboration, and developing virtual networks." As noted on the Fresh Vision Media web site, "A beautifully designed message is only effective when properly delivered to its targeted audience." With that philosophy, then, it's puzzling that Odom ever chose to recycle "DontGo," an old group name, for a new movement. It is also puzzling that DontGo seems to have felt that its "target audience" (average Americans fed up with Big Government) are all on Facebook. I complained a number of times that they were placing far too much emphasis on Facebook messages and groups. Sure, Facebook served a purpose, but it would have worked better had Odom and his colleagues also combined regular web site presence with the Facebook activity. Countless tens of thousands of people were not exposed to the Facebook pages. Missed opportunities, blown opportunities. (Trying to hard to be hip can be counterproductive.) Odom's May 10 proclamation will not clarify anything. It will not be a motivation for unity, it will be seen only as an administration reshuffling and a name change that will add to the existing confusion. Even now, the name change itself is causing dissent among the ranks. The tea party movement is still a bunch of groups within groups, each with their own subagendas and independently scheduled tea party protests. Sometimes they have overlapped, sometimes they have conflicted. I'll leave it to historians with grants and years to sort out the emails and memos and name changes. It should be an interesting project. Leave a Comment on our Guestbook! CommieBama Hats and More - Chicago News Bench RSS Feed Follow ChiNewsBench on Twitter