Coming to the movement in 2009 as a long-time political sideliner, I connected with the national Tea Party Patriots organization. After volunteering to blog for their site, they introduced me to their state coordinator in Minnesota, Toni Backdahl. She invited me to dinner, and I accepted without question. My assumption was that she would brief me on the status of the movement in Minnesota, and we would strategize how to best utilize my volunteered services.
What actually transpired during our meal was far more telling than any briefing I may have expected. Backdahl regaled me with drama. She talked about shadowy conspiracies by Republicans to co-opt the movement. She spent most of our time together warning me against other Tea Party activists that she had deemed traitorous to the cause in numerous ways.