On Saturday, I received a rather intriguing email from TheTeaParty.net entitled “37 things you should horde…” Inside, it offers several links to a page promising “click here to discover the 37 critical items you need to stay alive and healthy (you won’t be able to buy these things later!)”. Given recent concerns with the value of the dollar, a weak economy, and the ever-present looming threat of some sort of natural disaster and/or a terrorist attack, people’s fears and concerns will likely draw them to this site.
But what do you find when you get there, you might wonder? What are these 37 things that you and everyone else in our society need? The short answer is, after watching the video they offer, I still have no idea.
Let me save you a bit of time. For about a half an hour you sit through a repetitious video preying upon your fears that promises to save you from the crisis ahead. After spending so much effort trying to convince you that you are a “good patriot”, that the speaker is your friend and only wants to help, and this information they provide will save you and your family from starvation and mob warfare, you are bombarded with a sales pitch to buy a book that contains the answer to these future panics and more. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but if you really care to watch it anyway, you can do so here.
A month or two ago, after receiving one of my first emails from TheTeaParty.net, I called their Washington D.C. office hoping to learn more about their organization. No one answered my call and, even though I left a message, no one has anyone called me back since. Surprised?
Looking through their dozen or so emails I have stuffed in my inbox, this so-called tea party seems to only send out two kinds of messages, emails asking for money and emails from their paid sponsors. This morning’s email was more of the same. “Do you support the movement?” they ask. If yes, click here to take a poll. But, once you do, there is no survey, only another donation page. I’m sure that these kinds of self-serving messages are terribly useful to the greater tea party goals.
Masquerading as the tea party is all the rage these days. After all, like the televangelists of old, preaching a message of doom and gloom coupled with a monetary path to salvation is a popular and proven tactic. How many of our parents and grandparents were deceived by Jim Bakker or someone of his ilk back in the ’80s? Take from the old! Take from the naïve! Their loss can be your gain! But let me ask you this question: if you generously choose to donate some your hard-earned cash to show your support for the tea party, which would be a better choice? Your friends and neighbors out working in the community? Or some unknown group based in D.C.?
Now maybe TheTeaParty.net is on the level but, after a month, it is starting to become apparent to me that they may be little more than a group trying to cash in on the tea party’s name through promotion of their paid sponsors. Sure, you can ask me for a donation once in a while. Shake me down for money four days in a row? That tactic seems more than a little fishy.
Getting back to my original point, should you be prepared in the case of a disaster? Absolutely. Should we be concerned about the state of the economy? Of course. However, as a member of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, I don’t want anyone to get suckered in by an astroturf substitute promising solutions to a problem that may or not exist.
But who should listen to reason with so much fear swirling in the air? After all, tomorrow’s headline might read, “Panic! At the Supermarket!” Maybe if I ever look to cash in on a book or newspaper I’ll end up writing such provocative statements. For now though we have at least two options. Which course of action will you choose?