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Dreams from My Father
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Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Give Us Liberty:
A Tea Party Manifesto
,
by Rep. Dick Armey



(Click for Amazon book review)

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

This book claims to define the Tea Party, both for its members and for the general public. In summary, it succeeds at both.

Rep. Dick Armey is a former member of the House of Representatives from the time of Newt Gingrich's chairmanship. Armey assisted Gingrich heavily in the Republican takeover of 1994. Gingrich was the face of the Republican takeover; Armey was the behind-the-scenes workhorse. Both Armey and Gingrich feel that the Tea Party movement is the next generation of the 1994 "Contract With America" revolution. Since Gingrich is running for president in 2012, it fell to Armey to write this book.

Armey repeatedly notes that the Tea Party movement is leaderless: a grassroots movement with only local leaders. As such, it's difficult to define the Tea Party's principles. This book does a pretty good job of elaborating the Tea Party's core values. But Armey does address the "leaderless" label, defensively, when Armey stands accused of creating "Tea Party Astroturf" (p. 76): the Tea Party isn't really a leaderless grassroots organization but instead is secretly led from behind-the-scenes by Armey's organization, FreedomWorks. ("Astroturf" refers to artificial grass at sports stadiums; i.e., it's only artificially "grassroots"):

    "The 'Astroturfing' narrative was picked up by the liberal economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. On April 12, 2009, in The New York Times, he referred to FreedomWorks as the 'Armey of Darkness' behind the Tea Party movement: 'It turns out that the tea parties don't represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment,' he wrote. 'They're Astroturf events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires.' "

We agree with Armey on his key point: the Tea Party can have leaders, and leading organizations, while still primarily existing as a grassroots leaderless movement. That indeed describes most movements: the "Take Back America" movement in 2004, led (or not led) by Howard Dean's presidential campaign; the Ron Paul Revolution of 2008, led (or not led) by Ron Paul's presidential campaign; and now the Tea Party movement, led (or not led) by several Congressional campaigns.

Armey concludes the book by providing a "FreedomWorks Grassroots Activism Toolkit" (p. 181-245). It lays out the basics (over 60 pages) of community organizing, intended to assist novice grassroots organizers in getting started. Its sections include:

  1. The Chapter Concept: Mission Statements; Chapter Leaders; Commincations Directors; Legislative Liaison
  2. Networking and Building Coalitions
  3. How to Organize a Tea Party Protest
  4. Traditional Media: Letters to the Editor; Op-Eds; Radio and TV talk shows; Building media contacts
  5. Social Media: Ning; Facebook; Twitter; the Blogosphere; YouTube
  6. Lobbying Elected Officials: Grassroots lobbying tips; Writing your elected officials; Attending Town Hall meetings
  7. Recruiting: Events; Group meetings; Local issue battles;
  8. Retaining Activists: Calls to action; Follow-up; National retention program
  9. Fund-raising: Create lists; Mail outreach; Special events; Online fund-raising
If you want to understand the Tea Party, this book is a good place to start. If you want to help the Tea Party movement, the Grassroots Activism Toolkit is a great place to end up.

-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, May 2011

 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy
    Barney Frank: 2003: No threat to soundness of Fannie & Freddie.
    Dick Armey: Scrap Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac.
    Dick Armey: Big Business gets bailouts due to "collective action".
    George W. Bush: Abandoned free market principles to save the free market.
    Hank Paulson: OpEd: Unelected official given unchecked power over $700B.
    John McCain: OpEd: could have single-handedly killed the bailout.
    Mike Pence: 2008: Lonely GOP dissent against Wall Street bailout.
    Tea Party: When times are tough, government should make do with less.
    Tea Party: Bush's Wall Street bailout ignited Tea Party firestorm.
    Tea Party: Tea Party movement reborn based on massive 2008 bailout.
Civil Rights
    Jimmy Carter: Most animosity against Obama is because he's black.
    Tea Party: Equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes.
    Tea Party: OpEd: Few African-Americans at Tea Party events.
Education
    Dick Armey: Commonsense values are militantly rejected on college campus.
Energy & Oil
    Tea Party: All-of-the-Above instead of Cap-and-Trade.
Free Trade
    Tea Party: First principles: individual freedom & free markets.
Government Reform
    Dick Armey: Restrain government rather than seeking perfect leaders.
    Dick Armey: Market is rational and government is dumb.
    Robert Bennet: OpEd: Ardent defender of earmarks.
    Tea Party: Not about right-versus-left, but about big-versus-small.
    Tea Party: Moratorium on all earmarks until budget is balanced.
    Tea Party: Permanently repeal capital gains & death taxes.
Health Care
    Dick Armey: Organized protests at Hillary's "Health Care Express".
    Robert Reich: 2009: Make a racket to get a public option.
    Tea Party: Movement born in objection to stimulus plan.
Principles & Values
    Bill Owens: 2009: Endorsed by GOP candidate against Tea Party nominee.
    Dick Armey: Tea Party takes back America from left swing of pendulum.
    Dick Armey: Everyone should read Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals".
    Marco Rubio: OpEd: Leader for next generation of conservative movement.
    Mike Lee: Tea Party underdog against reliable Republican incumbent.
    Scott Brown: 2009: Overwhelming Tea Party support.
    Tea Party: Feb. 2009: "It's time for another Tea Party".
    Tea Party: Movement for change; including Alinsky Rules for Radicals.
    Tea Party: 9/12/09 Coalition: fiscal restraint & Constitutional limits.
    Tea Party: A social movement, not a political party,& hence sustainable.
    Tea Party: OpEd: Seize control of the Republican Party.
    Tea Party: 2009: Libertarians included in Massachusetts Tea Party.
    Tea Party: Contract From America: Our liberties are inherent.
    Tea Party: 2010: Championed Marco Rubio over Florida GOP candidate.
    Tea Party: 2010: Championed Mike Lee over Utah GOP candidate.


The above quotations are from Give Us Liberty:
A Tea Party Manifesto
,
by Rep. Dick Armey.
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