Tea Party meeting lacked sense of purpose
By SETH GROSSMAN
(Reprinted from April 28, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/index….f-purpose.html)
Stephen Smith?s story ?Growing local Tea Party chapter not ready to play follow the leader? described last week?s Tea Party meeting in Egg Harbor Township. There were no leaders, no agenda, no procedure, and no agreement to take any action ? other than to have another meeting next month.
Susan Lord, the chief organizer, has good intentions. But certain skills are also needed to do good things. An important mission of LibertyandProsperity.org is to teach those skills. One of them is running an effective meeting.
I learned this during the summer of 1969, when I was a 20-year-old student. Republican Richard Nixon was president, and America did not recognize or trade with Communist China (We made our own high-quality, low-cost clothes, tools and televisions). America recognized the Nationalist Chinese government on the island of Taiwan instead.
But Taiwan?s leaders were afraid Nixon would make a deal with Communist China. So in 1969, they tried to win the support of ordinary Americans by inviting hundreds of Americans to Taiwan to learn their side of the story.
I was invited because I was active in politics at my college. For six weeks, I was one of a group of 30 American students who lived and studied in Taiwan with 30 Chinese students who taught us about their country.
Within a week, it was clear that the Chinese students were far more advanced in science, literature and mathematics. They knew their own history, language and culture, yet also spoke better English and knew more about American and European history and culture than most Americans. We Americans knew nothing about China.
The Chinese were puzzled as to how Americans could know so little, yet create a country so much richer and more powerful than theirs. We even put a man on the moon that summer! These Chinese students, who admired the land of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, were clearly disappointed with us.
But one incident changed that. While we were in Taiwan, Nixon made a deal with Communist China at the expense of Taiwan. Some members of our group were eager to protest against Nixon in front of the American embassy. Others were dead set against it.
And so we 30 American students held a meeting to decide what to do. We began by electing a chairperson to conduct the meeting and a secretary to write down what we did. Next, one of us made a motion to organize a protest in front of the American embassy in Taipei and notify as many news agencies as we could. Someone else seconded that motion.
The chairperson then called on someone to speak in favor of the motion; then on someone to speak against. Each side took turns speaking, and each side raised very good arguments. When someone wandered off the topic, someone else shouted ?point of order,? and the chair limited the discussion to issues relevant to the motion.
After people started to repeat the same arguments, someone ?called the question,? and the chair called an immediate vote on whether or not to end the debate. When more than two-thirds of us voted ?aye,? the debate ended, and we voted on the original motion. The majority of us voted against the protest, and the minority supported our decision.
The 30 Chinese students who had been watching all this from the side of the room were astonished. They had never seen ordinary people get themselves organized and resolve a dispute this way. They told us they always turned to some government official in situations like this.
The Chinese students also told us how they admired how every person participated in making the decision in such a fair, orderly and efficient way. And how they now understood why Americans were so successful.
I hope Susan Lord prepares an agenda for her next Tea Party meeting. She should suggest specific goals for the group. The purpose of the meeting should be to discuss and agree on specific action. Leaders and committees should be chosen and given specific duties. All this should be written down by a secretary. A treasurer should be chosen to account for all dues and donations.
Is one of their goals to elect Tea Party candidate Linda Biamonte in the Republican primary for Congress on June 8? Then why not say so? Why not agree on action to help her? At least mention her name in the next issue of this newspaper.
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT-92.1FM, heard throughout South Jersey 8-9 a.m. every Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.