Tea Party' Movement Who Are They and What Do They Want

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<ul><li><p>8/14/2019 Tea Party' Movement Who Are They and What Do They Want</p><p> 1/2</p><p>'Tea party' movement: Who are they and what do they want?By Patrik Jonsson Thu Feb 4, 3:20 pm ET </p><p>Of all the protest signs at all the rallies and town-hall meetings where people gathered last year to object to</p><p>Washington's plans to save the US economy and reform healthcare, this hand-lettered one is memorable:</p><p>"You can't fix stupid, but you can vote it out."</p><p>That's the "tea party" movement in a nutshell.</p><p>The left paints the movement as a largely white and middle-class mob and as including kooks who equate</p><p>President Obama with Joseph Stalin.</p><p>There's some truth to that view. But where some see a bunch of white people standing in the way of</p><p>progress, others see a growing expression of dissatisfaction with what former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt</p><p>Romney (R) calls the "neomonarchists."</p><p>Ahead of the Tea Party Nation convention in Nashville, Tenn., slated for Feb. 4-6, here's a look at the tea</p><p>party movement its birth, its leadership, and its aspirations.</p><p>When and why was the tea party movement born?</p><p>CNBC editor Rick Santelli's on-air "rant" last February about a proposed mortgage bailout is widely considered to be the "big bang" moment for the birth of the</p><p>movement.</p><p>A few days later, a couple of conservative foot soldiers John O'Hara of the Heartland Institute and J.P. Freire, then of The American Spectator wondered if there</p><p>were a way to harness Mr. Santelli's frustration.</p><p>"You know what would be funny?" Mr. Freire mused to Mr. O'Hara, leading into a discussion that would become so much more than talk.</p><p>The pair organized "A New American Tea Party" rally outside the White House on Feb. 27, according to O'Hara's book about the movement. Six weeks later (around</p><p>tax day), about 500,000 people took to the streets in small, medium, and large protests from San Francisco to Atlanta. Today, says O'Hara in a phone interview,</p><p>"there are absolutely hundreds" of local and state tea party organizations.</p><p>Is the tea party a real populist movement or a front for big business?</p><p>No single person leads the tea party movement. Sympathizers and role players include conservative politicians Sarah Palin and Dick Armey, antitax crusader Grover</p><p>Norquist, online organizer Eric Odom of the American Liberty Alliance, and media personalities such as talk radio's Mark Williams and Fox News hosts Sean</p><p>Hannity and Glenn Beck.</p><p>But unheralded operatives, such as Brendan Steinhauser, campaign director for FreedomWorks and author of "The Conservative Revolution," created the backbone of</p><p>the movement, establishing websites and Facebook pages that would become populated with fed-up voters.</p><p>Critics say it is being funded or co-opted by entrenched conservative powers like FreedomWorks, which recruits volunteers to lobby for smaller government and lower</p><p>taxes. The Washington Post has reported that the tea party movement is, through FreedomWorks, tied to corporations like MetLife, Philip Morris, and "foundations</p><p>controlled by the archconservative Scaife family."</p><p>"Nobody is saying that the passion is manufactured," says Chris Harris at MediaMatters, a media watchdog group on the left. "But partisan and pro-business</p><p>interests [are] using people's real passion in a way that protesters aren't meaning."</p><p>Tea partyers, however, say the amateur-hour feel of their movement proves it's a true grass-roots uprising. "You can't simultaneously call the movement fractured and</p><p>incompetent and a vast right-wing conspiracy," says O'Hara.</p><p>What do tea partyers want?</p><p>The movement, in its essence, is about safeguarding individual liberty, cutting taxes, and ending bailouts for business while the American taxpayer gets burdened</p><p>with more public debt. It is fueled by concern that the United States under Mr. Obama is becoming a European-style social democracy where individual initiative is</p><p>sapped by the needs of the collective.</p><p>"The issue is no longer tea tariffs and imperial rule, but bailouts and handouts, stimulus in the face of deficits, cap and trade [on carbon emissions], universal</p><p>healthcare dictated against the will and interest of the people, and at the peril of the nation as a whole" leading to "an inevitable blow-back in a battle over</p><p>America's constitutional principles," writes O'Hara in "A New American Tea Party," which hit bookstores this month.</p><p>Is the tea party affiliated with the Republican Party?</p><p>Certainly more Republicans than Democrats show up at tea party events. But the movement's aim is to fight profligate spending by both parties in Washington.</p><p>(GOP chairman Michael Steele was notably refused a spot on the speaking roster at a Chicago tea party event last year.)</p><p>In some ways, the tea party movement poses less of a challenge to Democrats than to Republicans, who must weigh the potential gains and pitfalls of courting far-</p><p>right tea partyers against those of courting middle America. To what extent the tea party movement is middle America is the big question one that coming</p><p>elections will help answer.</p><p>What has the tea party movement achieved so far?</p><p>PRINT Back to story</p>http://news.yahoo.com/;_ylt=ApUrmDwc1XteFQc_Ahb1tt6Oe8UF;_ylu=X3oDMTEzaHZham9hBHBvcwMzBHNlYwN5bi1wcnZkbGluawRzbGsDeWFob29uZXdzhttp://news.yahoo.com/;_ylt=ApUrmDwc1XteFQc_Ahb1tt6Oe8UF;_ylu=X3oDMTEzaHZham9hBHBvcwMzBHNlYwN5bi1wcnZkbGluawRzbGsDeWFob29uZXdzhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20100204/ts_csm/275402;_ylt=AgawEd4kINjGtdHgZ_gew5.Oe8UF;_ylu=X3oDMTE2bWZsdGExBHBvcwMyBHNlYwN5bl9wcmludHBhZ2UEc2xrA2JhY2t0b3N0b3J5http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20100204/ts_csm/275402/print;_ylt=AjwoTtrEJ8n4h404ppVeHpWOe8UF;_ylu=X3oDMTFhcGtkMm1tBHBvcwMxBHNlYwN5bl9zdG9yeV9wcmludF9jb250ZW50BHNsawNwcmludA--</li><li><p>8/14/2019 Tea Party' Movement Who Are They and What Do They Want</p><p> 2/2</p><p>It appears to be winning the image war, for one. Forty-one percent of American adults have a positive view of the tea party, compared with 35 percent for the</p><p>Democrats and 28 percent for the GOP, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.</p><p>Tea partyers did transform the healthcare reform debate, some analysts say, after activists stormed town-hall meetings last summer.</p><p>Moreover, decisions by Democratic Sens. Christopher Dodd and Byron Dorgan not to run for reelection this year is an acknowledgment that they probably would</p><p>have faced a tea-party-inspired populist backlash at the polls, say tea party watchers.</p><p>In Massachusetts, tea party organizers helped to funnel money and manpower to state Sen. Scott Brown's successful bid for the late Ted Kennedy's seat in the US</p><p>Senate. The upset victory, wrote conservative columnist Mary Katharine Ham, shows that "Democrats fooled themselves into believing the town-hall/tea party</p><p>caricature and ignored the feelings of real Americans."</p><p>What role do tea party activists envision playing in the 2010 elections?</p><p>For a template, look to an emerging showdown in Florida between Gov. Charlie Crist and former state House Speaker Marco Rubio over a US Senate seat. Tea</p><p>partyers are backing Mr. Rubio and making a horse race out of a GOP primary that the popular Mr. Crist should have strolled through.</p><p>"The genie has been let out of the bottle," says Robert Watson, a political scientist at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla</p><p>How will the tea party convention advance or hurt the movement?</p><p>Recent convention developments have some tea party activists worried the event could tarnish the movement. The decision by two of the convention's key speakers,</p><p>Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R) of Minn. and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) of Tenn., to pull out is giving Americans a glimpse of the internecine fighting in the tea party</p><p>movement.</p><p>Some are also raising questions about convention expenses and its upscale lobster dinner, saying they contradict the movement's thrifty image and bolster</p><p>arguments that the convention is a GOP ruse to raise millions.</p><p>Those who oppose the convention also question the cult of personality around Sarah Palin, the convention's headline speaker, and say it's the people who should be</p><p>speaking to politicians, not the other way around.</p><p>Still, for many the controversy only proves the tea partyers are a grass roots movement with no central authority, and it's creating a forum for just the kind of healthy</p><p>debate necessary to shape a stronger and more influential movement.</p><p>---</p><p>Follow us on Twitter</p><p>Copyright 2010 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. 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