Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 8:00 pm | Fair 58º


Daniel Petry: America’s Revolutionary Zeal Alive and Well

The lesson out of Massachusetts is that the Tea Party is a force to be reckoned with

Whether it was the Boston Tea Party of Dec. 16, 1773, or the Boston Tea Party of Jan. 19, 2010, we find that American Revolutionary zeal is alive and well in our nation.

Daniel Petry
Daniel Petry

On Jan. 10, a call went out to the Santa Barbara Tea Party and hundreds of national Tea Party organizations. Scott Brown needed their assistance to render the coup de grâce to the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s candidate for senator.

In less than 24 hours, more than $1.3 million cascaded into Brown’s campaign. The infrastructure and logistics of local Tea Party organizations were brought to bear on a political campaign that had profound national implications. The result: victory.

Since newly elected Sen. Brown is a U.S. military officer with more than 20 years service, I have a strong suspicion that he has more than a passing understanding of Sun Tzu’s theories on conflict. To whit: “To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”

Watching his campaign roll forward, I began to realize that his Democratic rival was a “dead woman walking” — her party just didn’t realize it until it was too late to truly affect the outcome. Their reaction was as panicked as George Custer must have felt when he realized he was attacking not some small band of starving Indians, but was being overrun by thousands of really ticked off warriors.

The Democratic Party was defeated through the cumulative effect of “a thousand cuts” and the obvious strategic error of thinking that Tea Party participants were just irritatingly vocal and unorganized fringe members of a nascent third party. They were wrong, and they lost.

The major mistake nearly every single pundit, Democratic or Republican politician, lobbyist or inside-the-Beltway policy wonk has made is failing to realize the massive logistical effect the Tea Party movement had on this race. They failed to understand — and, quite amazingly, still do — that Brown’s campaign was not only a rejection of Statist politics, but a renunciation of the current power paradigm of both the Republican and Democratic parties. They failed to heed this in Virginia, and lost. They failed to heed this in New Jersey, and lost. Now they failed to heed this in the bluest of states, and lost.

Every campaign has a tipping point. The leaders who recognize it and take advantage of it, win. Those that don’t, lose. It’s that simple. Brown knew his campaign had reached a tipping point, and when he needed that last logistical push, the Tea Party provided it.

While Brown was using the Massachusetts Republican Party’s organizational structure to provide a framework of support, he added the weight of Tea Party mobilization and fundraising capabilities. The combination succeeded as planned. Add in the Democratic Party’s cumbersome and ineffectual reactions, and Martha Coakley was doomed and a president’s agenda lost.

Brown’s hearts and minds tactics were a perfect demonstration of one path to victory. Whether you’re an entrenched Democrat or Republican, take heed, for there are hundreds of Browns out there who are not self-interested sunshine patriots.

The lesson that needs to be learned is that the Tea Party is not a third party, but the strategic foundation of a loosely organized nonpartisan movement that will use either national party’s infrastructure to get its chosen representatives elected. Ignore them, and you will lose. Respect them enough to make changes, and you have a chance.

— Santa Barbara resident Daniel Petry is the CEO and founding partner of Petry Direct Inc., a 20-year-old management firm that specializes in content production and marketing management. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, class of 1976, and received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >