Is the Congress for the New Urbanism really that different then the Tea Party?

As I watch the Tea Party coverage on CSPAN, the similarities are striking to the National meeting of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). Both organizations are grass roots movements and believe that the current hierarchy has led us astray. Both are full of intelligent professionals that believe that there is a better way. Both feel that the truth will empower our base.

I am sure that the progressives of the CNU will out lash against this observation. The last thing that the CNU would like to associated with is social conservatives. I am confident that the progressives have already stopped reading and moved onto another blog.

This observation is important for several reasons. First, when was the last time that you saw national coverage, and live nation news feeds from a grass roots conference of 1,000 people? When have you ever seen live interviews of 20 something’s discussing seminars they just led? When was the last time that a keynote speaker received national primetime airtime? We need to learn and connect to this type of media machine.

Secondly, the principles of the Tea Party could make or break the work of the CNU in the coming years. The talking points of the Tea Party are common principles that have struck a cord of fiscal responsibility throughout the country. I have already seen this attitude show up in several of my public meetings. This is the cultural backlash of progressive ideas and principles. As a progressive liberal, you should be afraid of the success of the Tea Party Campaign. The social programs that support much of our work are at risk at being cut, and the Federal and State budget items to pay for our services are under attack. We need to understand the ideas coming out of Tea Party.

The Charter for the New Urbanism is a document that will stand the test of time. It was not written for the left or the right, but it is founded in human needs. New Urbanists need to be smarter in how we present ourselves. Our work is important and there will continue to be a need for our services. Take advantage of the Tea Party. We need to learn how they are spreading their message and empowering their base to act.

This is also an opportunity to reach out to the Tea Party. We should invite members to the Congress. The Tea Party will be developing public policy statements that we have the opportunity to influence. We have more in common then we may initially think.