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Tempest in a Tea Blog

A rift among political activists erupts into a very public, and graphic, airing of differences

Last Friday, Valerie Doane had finally had it. One of the regular contributors to the Times Union’s citizen-written Tea Party blog, Doane said that she had become permanently frustrated by what she called the sanitized and co-opted version of the Tea Party that dominates the TU blog. The TU has been actively cultivating a milquetoast Tea Party image, she said, one that waves the Gadsden and praises the Jesus, but lacks the strict revolutionary zeal that she said is critical in a political movement. She decided to take action.

So, she invited the anonymous Voice of Liberty to write a post in her stead. Voice of Liberty was, apparently, called in to challenge these supposed Tea Party crashers, to set the proverbial bomb that would blow the blog to smithereens. And he certainly did.

He wrote: “Well, the Times Union likes the Tea Party blog when it generates tens-of-thousands of page views and drives the click-ad revenue through the roof. But they only like it when it is the sanitized and familiar view of the Tea party. . . .when it gets too edgy, or ruffles some feathers, they start to cringe and censor.”

To make his point, the anonymous author of the post pulled an image from the website Public Intelligence, and placed it full-size at the top of the post. The image was a close-up photo of a man who was apparently killed in a battle between Mexican drug cartels. He was shot in such a way that the top of his skull had broken apart, and hung in sections from flesh, the inside of the man’s cranium empty—and in clear view of the camera.

Voice of Liberty drew the comparison between this terribly graphic image, which he wrote “captures the stark reality of what is happening along and just south of our border,” and the “sanitized” version of the drug wars being fought in Mexico that you are likely to see in the mainstream press to the two factions of political activists fighting for the soul of the Tea Party movement.

Voice of Liberty, and Doane, among others, complain that operatives for the Republican Party have taken over the movement. Voice of Liberty linked to one of the blog’s contributors’ “mind-numbingly repetitive series of Republican candidate-centric articles.” The author he was referring to, Bill Claydon, has written a number of posts supporting Republican Chris Gibson, who is running for Congress in New York’s 20th District.

Claydon pulled all of his posts down from the TU blog after Voice of Liberty’s post, stating that he didn’t want to be associated with such a “disgusting” tactic.

“My own feelings were that I was really shocked that [Doane] would do something like that,” said Claydon. He hasn’t decided whether or not he will continue to write on the TU blog. He said that Doane was speaking just for herself, “and she doesn’t represent me or anyone else.”

Doane told Metroland that she agreed with Voice of Liberty, that Claydon’s campaigning for Gibson—a candidate she supports—was shameless, and not appreciated on the Tea Party blog. She pointed out that political opportunists have tried to harness the Tea Party energy to elect Republican insiders.

“What’s the Tea Party?” Voice of Liberty asked Metroland. “There’s an element that says, ‘Fuck compromise.’ It’s not about putting more Rs in office in two months. That’s not going to solve anything. What are they going to do, roll us back to the salad days of 2006, or 1994? Some of us have really caught on to what is bullshit.”

He said that while liberal ideological opposition is understandable, it’s the infiltration from the right that he cannot take. “That’s wrong.”

“The bottom line is,” said Doane, “that there are many more of us in here than people realize,” referring to herself and Voice of Liberty. “We are not going to compromise our principles. We aren’t going to do it.”

—Chet Hardin

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