As Tea Party activists prepare to hold their first convention in Nashville, Tenn., in early February, concerns have emerged about the cohesion of the movement that rose to prominence on its outrage directed at Washington and Wall Street elites.
Some commentators suggested that the lavish nature of the event—which is set at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center and rumored to include steak and lobster dinner with Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker—is at odds with the basic principles of the movement.
"I’m hoping for the best, but I’m prepared for the worst—that it descends into infighting and that the passionate activists who attend end up leaving disenchanted," Red State blogger Erick Erickson told Politico.com.
Others noted potential problems that may stem from trying to hold together a fractious coalition of groups distrustful of authority and pursuing conflicting agendas. For example, the goal of the convention is to develop a mainstream organization, even though the movement was built around grassroots actions and appeals to an audience that is suspicious of top-down management, according to a blog on the website of the Los Angeles Times.
"The idea that there’s one person, one event, that can somehow be the Tea Party spokesperson is inaccurate and counter to the movement of free-thinking individuals that want less government intervention," says John O’Hara, author of A New American Tea Party, quoted by The Christian Science Monitor .