Tea Party on Principles & Values



Framework for Tea Party in 2002; didn't ignite until 2009

In 2002, Citizens for a Sound Economy (which later became FreedomWorks) launched the website USTeaParty.com, with a video game that encouraged users to toss crates of tea off a ship in Boston Harbor FreedomWorks organized anti-tax protests each April 15 at post offices around the country--rarely drawing more than two dozen people. They penned an op-ed submission in 2007 advocating the Boston Tea Party approach to citizen revolt. Editors yawned; the op-ed was never published. No matter what they tried, FreedomWorks couldn't seem to ignite their modern-day Tea Party movement.

Everything changed on the morning of February 19, 2009, with CNBC's Rick Santelli [now-famous rant]. Within hours, FreedomWorks created the website IAmWithRick.com. In the weeks that followed, FreedomWorks and other DC-based groups helped organize Tea Party rallies from Philadelphia to Sacramento. On April 15, 2009--tax day--some 750 Tea Party protests took place around the country.

Source: The Wahingtonian, "Armey in Exile" , Jun 26, 2013

Tea Partiers took action and made it up as we went along

Back in 2009, all we had was the heart-felt belief that America's founding principles were worth fighting for and that, unless we did something about it quickly, we risked losing everything America had become.

It was up to us to show up and take action before the other side could douse the fire in our hearts. Like our forefathers, we pledged our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor for America--to stand up to a government that had grown power-hungry and out of control. But we had no idea how to hold a "tea party." Se we made it up as we went along.

Is this how revolutions get started? Was this how the original Sons of Liberty felt in 1773 when they tipped those 340 cases of tea into Boston Harbor? We were just ordinary citizens with kids to feed and bills to pay in the middle of a collapsing economy, with Washington and our state governments trying to take more away from us each year to waste and spend or give to their cronies.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 17 , Feb 14, 2012

Movement strategy: Prod, Pressure, and Primary

What matters is that the Tea Party movement is learning how to best affect the political process. We're getting more savvy every day. Politics has become a career path, rather than a duty to serve, the way the Founders intended it to be. So it's up to us--all of us--to change things. How can we do that? Through a 3 part plan. Over the next 2 years, the Tea Party movement's strategy includes 3 p's (1) prod, (2) pressure, and (3) primary. What do we mean by this?
  1. As citizens, it's our responsibility to petition our government to do the right thing.
  2. When politicians of any party act against our interests, it's up to us to call attention to their failures, immediately, loudly and as publicly as possible.
  3. When all else fails, the Tea Party movement has shown it knows how to use the power of direct democracy to replace lawmakers who don't support its core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets.
Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 75-77 , Feb 14, 2012

OpEd: Tea Party won't become well-organized political party

The Tea Party is interested in limited government according to the US Constitution, capitalism with free enterprise, tax reform, sovereignty of the states consistent with the Constitution, border control, and fiscal responsibility. The very fact that so many people are joining the Tea Party or becoming politically Independent suggests that people are less willing to be spoon-fed by a largely biased media and are thinking for themselves again.

I believe the new Tea Party is going to be very important in deciding the future direction of our country. By its very nature, it is unlikely to ever become a well-organized political party, and it represents different things to different people, but one factor that brings all of its constituents together is the desire for individual freedom and less government in our lives.

Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p.161 , Jan 24, 2012

Tea Party on Anti-Establishment

2009: finally confronting big-government leviathan head-on

Under the Obama administration we were finally confronting head-on the big-government leviathan. This was exactly what our founders had feared. As a result of massive government growth, we had a government that existed to plan and control virtually every aspect of our lives and our economy, from energy to automobile to banking, insurance, and health care.

But something remarkable also started happening in 2009 to counter all that. As our founders once did against a tyrant king, citizens and states began to push back against the federal government in an attempt to stop its out-of-control growth.

As talk of putting the American health care industry under government control became actual legislation working its way through Congress, citizens started to protest. Many organized, and the Tea Party movement--named in honor of the 1773 Boston Tea Party rebellion against British Crown--emerged.

Source: Last Line of Defense, by Ken Cuccinelli, p. 5-6 , Feb 12, 2013

OpEd:Tying Tea Party to DC politicians de-energizes movement

Sen. Rubio seemed to understand implicitly that harnessing the Tea Party to Washington-based institutions could weaken whatever effectiveness it had. "My fear has always been that if you start creating these little clubs in Washington run by politicians, the movement starts to lose its energy," Rubio explained. "I don't think it'll ever become an organization. If it does, it'll end up quickly falling part. I think it draws its strength from the fact that it's a legitimate grassroots movement of people from all over the country who share a difference of opinion on a bunch of issues, but ultimately on the core of what the role of government should be, find commonality, and are able to express it now in ways that weren't available to us 20 years ago." He declined to participate in the tea party caucus formed by his fellow freshman Rand Paul. The move irked a few tea party supporters, [but] a tea party activist said, "He feels the tea party is a grassroots thing and should not be tied to DC."
Source: The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Rogi-Franzia, p.188-189 , Jun 19, 2012

2011 freshman class felt unambiguous mandate to change DC

It was January 2011 and there were 87 new arrivals. This was hardly the first time that the town had seen a large freshman class. There had been a whopping 94 incoming Democrats following the referendum on the corrupt Grant administration in 1874; a class of 86 Democrats following the Panic of 1890; an unprecedented 131 Democratic freshmen riding the FDR wave in 1932; the 49 Watergate Democrats in 1974; the 52 so-called Reagan's Robots in 1980; and the 73 Gingrichites in 1994. Each outsized freshman class rode into Washington confident that it had received an unambiguous mandate to change how business was done here. None was terribly successful at doing so.

The Republican class of 2010 was not by any means monolithic. Nearly 1/3 of them had never before held public office and were instead "citizen-politicians" sent here by the Tea Party. Even among the Republicans, America could be interpreted 435 different ways.

Source: Do Not Ask What Good We Do, by Robert Draper, p. 28-29 , Apr 24, 2012

Be suspicious of politicians wrapped in Tea Party banner

The rise of the Tea Party is the best thing to happen in American politics since 1994. The Tea Party now has the capability to force Congress to stay on course and not go native. To keep the movement on track, I'll close with these thoughts:
Source: The Debt Bomb, by Sen. Tom Coburn, p.293-4 , Apr 17, 2012

Conservative Congress more important than GOP Congress

One of the main reasons that the Tea party and I are such a natural fit is that they understand the importance of putting principles before politics. Critics tried to discredit the Tea Party by calling them stooges of the GOP. In fact, they weren't a party at all. They were Republicans, Democrats, and independents who had had enough and were determined to change things. They instantly understood something that it took me 6 years in the South Carolina state house to figure out. It wasn't important that South Carolina--or Washington, for that matter--have a Republican Congress. Big spending and big government weren't working out in Columbia under Republicans any better than they were in Washington, D. C., under Democrats. And unless conservative principles trumped political expediency, that would never change.
Source: Can't Is Not an Option, by Gov. Nikki Haley, p.115-116 , Apr 3, 2012

2010:Knocked off establishment picks in GOP Senate primaries

In the 2010 midterm election, it was unquestionably time for Tea. Mike Lee came from nowhere out of the ranks of the Tea Party to topple a sitting US Senator in the Republican primary. Lee's opponent, Sen. Bob Bennett, was targeted and defeated largely because he voted for the bank bailout. Lee went on to win the general election. After that, during the Kentucky GOP primary election, my Tea Party-endorsed campaign not only knocked off the establishment's pick but did so handily, with my Republican opponent losing by a whopping 24%. There were Tea party skirmishes in Nevada, Michigan, Colorado, Alaska and many other states throughout the country. Each candidate didn't win but, overall, the movement did.
Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 42 , Feb 22, 2012

GOP is lesser of 2 evils: eternal vigilance on both parties

To the Tea Party movement, the idea of supporting Republicans was only moderately less distasteful than supporting Democrats. But we knew that if we had "gone rogue" and launched a 3rd-party challenge, we would have split the conservative vote and handed perpetual power to the Democratic Party.

So Tea Partiers did something that was remarkably difficult. In 2010, Tea Partiers chose the lesser of 2 evils and supported a slate of Republican candidates, many of whom had pledged allegiance to our core Tea Party values.

We didn't pretend that Republicans are honorable, principled, or worthy of our trust, any more than Democrats. We knew that we would have to be eternally vigilant with them, too. What we didn't know was how quickly they would turn against us.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 65 , Feb 14, 2012

Obama is subject of immense suspicion of illegitimacy

The policies and person of Barack Hussein Obama were the subject of immense suspicion at every Tea Party event or interview we attended. It is no coincidence that Tea Party activism began within weeks of President Obama's inauguration. Several interviewees dated their concerns about the country and national politics to Obama's election or the 2008 campaign. Others told us, quite credibly, about long-simmering worries, and insisted that the Tea Party is not just or only about opposition to Obama.

Obama is perceived by many Tea Partiers as a foreigner, an invader pretending to be an American, a 5th columnist. Obama's past as a community organizer is taken as evidence that he works on behalf of the undeserving poor and wishes to mobilize government resources on their behalf. His academic achievements and social ties put him in league with the country's intellectual elite, whose disdain feels very real to many Americans, and whose cosmopolitan leanings seem unpatriotic.

Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 77-79 , Jan 2, 2012

OpEd: Common dislike of incumbents and establishment

The Tea Party is growing as a cluster of organizations. But more importantly, the Tea Party's populist sentiment is growing larger and larger. Even people who are not politically attached are growing tired of Washington. The people might want different things, from lower taxes to less government intrusion to the end of American involvement in wars, but they stand united with their common dislike of the incumbent and the establishment.
Source: Why She Will Win, by Ron Paul Jones, p. 15 , Jun 8, 2011

Unconventional because they've had enough of establishment

"I have a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words. We've come to take our government back."

Speaking these words after winning Kentucky's Republican primary in spring 2012, I understood that my victory was part of a much larger movement. Voters outraged by massive debt, spending and an out-of-control federal government had elected a candidate the media and political establishment had deemed too unconventional--precisely because they desired a more unconventional politics. The status quo had failed. Big government had failed. On that warm May evening, Kentucky voters sent a message loud and clear: We've had enough.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. xi , Feb 22, 2011

Original 1773 Tea Party fought ruling establishment also

The original Tea Party took place in Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773, over a mere 3-cent tax. Today we don't consider those who took part in the protests "extremists" but patriots, who in resisting the British Crown helped kick-start a necessary and just revolution.

Today's Tea Partiers are typically not accorded the same respect by our mainstream political and media establishment, even as they protest a government arguably more arrogant than that of 18th century England. A tax on tea was an outrage to our ancestors. A $2 trillion deficit and $13 trillion debt has not become an outrage to their descendants. It wasn't unusual for British officials and the press to view colonists who resisted the ruling regime in less-than-flattering terms. (Similarly, as representatives of the current ruling establishment today's political and media elite have little good to say about the Tea Party.)

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 5 , Feb 22, 2011

2010: Championed Marco Rubio over Florida GOP candidate

Marco was already running for Senate before Gov. Crist announced in May 2009. Marco had no money and virtually no name recognition. What he did have was an ability to get things done, and a record worth supporting. From day one, the early Tea Party movement started to spread the word on the ground, evangelizing about this fresh face who offered something different, something worth fighting for. They also had not forgotten how Crist embraced the president's stimulus package.

Rubio became a welcome guest at Tea Party events across the state. At their urging, Dick Armey endorsed Rubio on July 4, 2009, describing Rubio as "an inspiring leader for the next generation of the conservative movement."

Yet despite the obvious advantages these fiscal conservatives found in Rubio, Crist enjoyed an enormous lead in the first polls. But the Tea Party had a champion and got to work. Slowly, the Tea Party movement's support helped bring Rubio to the public eye.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.162-163 , Aug 17, 2010

2010: Championed Mike Lee over Utah GOP candidate

In Utah, Sen. Robert Bennett, a three-term Republican mainstay, was ousted at the state Republican convention by the Tea Party activists. When the dust settled, a whopping 2,200 of the 3,600 delegates had been personally contacted by FreedomWorks staffer and local volunteers. The pro-freedom contingent even set up a booth on the convention floor, debating the opposition in person and winning votes up to the last moment.

Bennett was widely considered to be a "good guy" who was mostly reliable on Republican issues. Most notably for the delegates from Utah, he had voted for the Wall Street bailout. As Bennett spoke to the gathering, the chant of "TARP, TARP, TARP" echoed across Convention Hall. Bennett was ultimately replaced by the Tea Party underdog candidate Mike Lee, a staunch supporter of limited government and the very first signer of the Contract from America.

One pundit fumed, "It is a damn outrage." Another wailed, "It's almost a nonviolent coup." Get used to it, guys.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.164 , Aug 17, 2010

OpEd: Seize control of the Republican Party

If the Tea Party movement wants to be politically effective in turning an ethos into public policy, we need to take over the Republican Party. By seizing control of the party, we can spend our time focused on ideas and use the party infrastructure that has been built over the past 156 years. And among the two parties the Republicans have at least at times been on the side of fiscal restraint and already have some of us in their ranks.

Notice that we call for a hostile takeover. We didn't say "join th Republican Party." We need to take it over. The commonsense values that define the Tea Party movement, like the belief that government should not spend money it does not have, puts us in the broad middle of American politics. That means the existing parties, if they covet the votes of this broad constituency, need to gravitate toward our values and our issues to get elected.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.135-136 , Aug 17, 2010

Tea Party on Origins and Demographics

2010: 52 Tea Party Caucus members among 87 GOP freshmen

The 87 new Republican members of Congress included a healthy number of mavericks and unconventional politicians. They said they were on a "mission" that allowed no compromise, damn the consequences, including risking re-election. For various reasons, but mainly to maintain ideological purity, 19 of them bunked in their offices. Source: The Tea Party: A Brief History, by R. Formisano, p. 40-41 , Apr 4, 2012

Tea Party Patriots organized after Rick Santelli rant

On February 19, 2009 we heard the words that would change our lives forever. This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgages [when they have] an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?

The speaker on the radio was CNBC reporter Rick Santelli, on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, in his now-famous rant that sparked the modern Tea Party movement. The next day I started organizing.

I had never organized a protest before. I had never even been to a protest. But I had been active online. And I did understand politics. Most important, I knew that the time had come to do something to save the country. I was reminded, deep inside, of something that Ronald Reagan said in his 2nd inaugural address: "If not us, who? And if not now, when?" As I looked at my young children, I could not shake the thought that this was my personal responsibility as a citizen and as a mother.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 3 , Feb 14, 2012

Grassroots activists: not just Republicans, even some Dems

Tea Party members became alarmed and angry over the massive growth of government, exorbitant new spending programs, and the government takeover of private companies and the health-care industry. These grassroots activists were not just Republicans; they included Democrats, libertarians, independents, and many who had never been involved in politics. Americans from different backgrounds and political persuasions voiced grave concern over the troubling direction of their country. It was the beginning of an American awakening.

When I spoke at Tea Party events and made my way through the crowds, I would often hear 3 things: "Thanks for fighting. Don't back down," and "We're praying for you." And of course everyone would ask, "What can we do?" These folks came from all walks of life, but they were all eager for political leadership from elected officials serious about stopping the federal government from bankrupting our nation.

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p. 12 , Jan 10, 2012

Bottom-up Tea Party differs from city to city

There is no one Tea Party group of Tea Party leader. The Tea Party is a bottom-up operation, not top-down, that differs from state to state, city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood. The label can rightly be used to describe thousands of citizen groups who are concerned about--or actually fearful of--the out-of-control spending, borrowing, debt, and growth of the federal government. They demand a balanced budget and a return to constitutional limited government not because they are extreme, but because they fear a truly extreme government.

Tea Party groups are composed of a diverse mix of Americans representing a broad cross-section of political ideologies, and many people who have not been involved in politics at all. They are united by fiscal and economic issues, and they are strongly opposed to the federal government's ever-increasing intervention into all areas of the private sector. For every official Tea Party member, there are hundreds of Americans who agree with their concerns and goals.

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p.189-190 , Jan 10, 2012

About 160,000 active participants in Tea Party movement

Our nationwide survey of local Tea Parties turned up about 1000 groups spread across all 50 states, including about 800 groups that appeared to be active in the spring and early summer of 2011. Some local Tea Parties are very large, with online membership lists of 1000 people or more. But most local Tea Parties have much smaller contact lists, and the typical meeting has a few dozen people in attendance. Overall, a generous assumption is that approximately 800 active local Tea Parties have, on overage, 200 members apiece--that is, people who sign up to be regularly notified and attend gatherings at least occasionally. That multiplies out to 160,000 very active grassroots participants in Tea Parties across the US.
Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 22 , Jan 2, 2012

Tea Party Demographics: Mostly middle-aged and beyond

Although not every active Tea Partier is a senior citizen, most are middle-aged and beyond--a key social characteristic. Probably the age profile of the Tea Party nudges younger in urban areas, especially in locales where libertarian college students may turn up. But at the Tea Party meetings we attended in rural and suburban venues, graying hair topped almost every head.

Despite occasional efforts at intergenerational outreach, Tea Partiers do not seem anguished about their upward-tilted profile. The paucity of younger participants is usually taken in stride. Tea Partiers are "older and wiser," one member in Arizona told us. Similarly, a Virginia Tea Party member explained that older Americans are more attuned to Tea Party priorities. "28-year-olds are not paying the bills" and so they are not as attracted to the Tea Party as people over 50, who worry about fiscal matters.

Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 24-25 , Jan 2, 2012

Tea Party includes some astroturf and some grassroots

Many supporters proclaim the Tea Party to be purely a grassroots rebellion, a "mass movement of 'regular' Americans with real concerns about losing the right to live their lives as they choose." This view captures only a small part of the truth, ignoring the fact that Tea Party participants are in many respects even more ideologically extreme than other very conservative Republicans. Similarly, the "mass movement" portrayed overlooks the fact that the Tea Party, understood in its entirety, includes media hosts and wealthy political action committees, plus national advocacy groups and self-proclaimed spokespersons--elites that wield many millions of dollars in political contributions and appear all over the media claiming to speak for grassroots activists who certainly have not elected them, and to whom they are not accountable. The opposite illusion is also there among those who proclaim the Tea Party to be nothing more than an "astroturf" phenomenon.
Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 11 , Jan 2, 2012

More Americans identify with Tea Party than Dems or GOP

On April 15, 2009, there were 700 sign-waving Tea Partiers filling Fountain Square Park in downtown Bowling Green, Kentucky. It was the largest political gathering I had ever witnessed in my town.

I said to the people that day: 200 years ago Sam Adams and his rabble-rousers threw tea in Boston's harbor. Sam Adams famously said, "It does not require a majority keen to set brushfires in people's minds." That's right--an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires. Looks like we've got one hell of a brushfire to me.

And from that day forward the Tea Party has been keen on fanning the flames, not simply as a tireless minority but as a potential majority, with some polls showing that more Americans identify with the Tea Party than either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 8-9 , Feb 22, 2011

No national organization speaks for the Tea Party

In the beginning, the Left tried to argue that the Tea Party was little more than top-down organized publicity stunts fomented by FOX News. The reality was actually quite different.

Statewide communication between different Tea Parties in each city is spotty at best, and yet in city after city thousands of folks gather at local events. But when a so-called "national" Tea Party convention was held last year, state and local organizers issued statements to make it known that no national organization spoke for them.

The Tea Party wasn't created by a billionaire. It came from the people. It has no single leader, is often adamantly against leadership and threatens the power structure of both political parties. It threatens the perquisites and privileges of the establishment and, therefore, many on both sides of the aisle think it must be destroyed. That the Tea Party has so many enemies in the establishment media and government should tell its members they're doing something right.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 10-11 , Feb 22, 2011

9/12/09 Coalition: fiscal restraint & Constitutional limits

FreedomWorks proceeded to assemble a large coalition of partner groups, including:The coalition created a broad net of anyone who agreed on the basic principles of the movement:
  1. a belief in individual freedom, fiscal restraint, and respect for our Constitution's limits on government power
  2. a working coalition that understood the need to organize and take to the streets in defense of liberty.
[In planning the march on Washington, we decided to forgo any big-name speakers, in part because we didn't have the money. But we also wanted the event to reflect the leaderless nature of the Tea Party. So the emphasis was on the local leaders.

Conservatively, you can say that at least one million people showed up for the Taxpayer March on Washington on Sep. 12 2009

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.102&117 , Aug 17, 2010

2009: Libertarians included in Massachusetts Tea Party

In 2009 the dedication of the local Tea Party members support for Brown was overwhelming.

One week before the election, an e-mail entitled "warning to Tea Party activists: don't even think about voting for Scott Brown!" was sent from Carla Howell and Michael Cloud, two prominent Libertarian members of the Tea Party movement.

In part, their e-mail read, "You have a radically better choice. A choice that will advance the Tea Party Cause. A choice that will give us REAL Tea Party candidates and allies in November."

This, of course, is the constant tension in politics--deciding whether or not to let the unelectable "perfect" be the enemy of the electable "good."

most activists realized what was at stake and accepted the current reality of our system. Many of the Tea Party citizens preferred the libertarian Joe Kennedy, but Scott Brown had the best chance to win, and the Tea Party people solidified their support behind Scott. The libertarians may generally be counted among the Tea Partiers.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.150-151 , Aug 17, 2010

Feb. 2009: "It's time for another Tea Party"

In Feb. 2009, a movement was reawakened. Confused by the commonsense rhetoric and nonviolent, law-abiding tactics, political pundits and media observers were at a loss. The phenomenon needed a name.

On Feb. 18, CNBC's Rick Santelli listened to news coverage of Obama's proposal for yet another housing bailout. Santelli unexpectedly unleashed an impassioned rant: "The government is promoting bad behavior! This is America! How many people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgages that have an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? Pres. Obama, are you listening? It's time for another Tea Party. We're thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July, all you capitalists. I'm organizing."

Within hours, Santelli's rant had gone viral, earning more than a millions views on YouTube and countless discussions across the country. The frustration that had been building, and which had begun to turn into street action, now had a name. The Tea Party was ready for the national stage.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p. 19-20 , Aug 17, 2010

Tea Party on Political Philosophy

We, the people, feel threatened as our nation slips away

We are writing this book for a number of reasons.We the people. With those 3 words, our nation began. And with those 3 words, our story begins.

We, the people of the USA, felt threatened. We felt angry. We felt helpless as we watched our beloved nation--the greatest nation in world history--slip away.

Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 11-13 , Feb 14, 2012

Many people are Tea Partiers and don't know it

Many people are probably Tea Party people and they don't know it. Because if you believe in less taxes, less government, the free market system, more individual responsibility, and enforcing the Constitution, you are a tea party person. But you may not know it. A lot of people don't know that they are Tea Party people because the political elites, as well as the media elites, have tried to marginalize this movement. It will not be denied. It is stronger and growing as much as ever before.
Source: Tea Party response to the 2012 State of the Union speech , Jan 24, 2012

Stop the blame game; start common sense solutions

On behalf of the Tea Party, with all due respect, Mr. President, the state of the union is not good. We want common sense solutions. That's how we do it outside of Washington. The American people, the Tea Party people, we know that this nation is broke. And Washington is broken.

Mr. President, stop the class warfare. Discourage your surrogates from making racial innuendos. Stop the attacks on citizens by making government too big. And Mr. President, most of all, stop the blame game.

Source: Tea Party response to the 2012 State of the Union speech , Jan 24, 2012

Tea Party message: we the people are coming

It was 1773 when the colonists got fed up with Old King George and the Brits, and their act of defiance was the Boston Tea Party. Two years later, we had the start of the American Revolution. Eight years later, we won.

We can do it again. We need another revolution. This time it will not be about bombs and bullets. It's going to be about brains and ballots. Washington is out of touch with the people because there are times they forget that they work for us. We must remind them. We the people are coming. That's the Tea Party message to Washington, the President, and his administration. We the people are coming and we know that we are up against Goliath, but this is why the tea party movement will become not a single David trying to slay Goliath. We will be an army of Davids. The Tea Party movement is alive and well, and it is going to continue to redefine the political landscape in 2012. We the people are coming. We want our power back.

Source: Herman Cain response to the 2012 State of the Union speech , Jan 24, 2012

Tea Party includes both moral conservatives & libertarians

We've seen a number of traits that mostly unite engaged Tea Party supporters, including race, age, socioeconomic class, and, above all, very conservative political views. There is, however, one major dimension along which Tea Party activists show diversity. Some Tea Partiers are social conservatives focused on moral and cultural issues ranging from pro-life concerns to worries about the impact of recent immigrants on the cultural coherence of American life, while others are much more secular-minded libertarians, who stress individual choice on cultural matters and want the Tea Party as a whole to give absolute priority to fiscal issues. When it comes to hammering out shared positions or setting priorities for local Tea Party activity, there can be significant friction between these two clusters, particularly about religion and the role of government in enforcing moral standards.
Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 35-36 , Jan 2, 2012

Borrow Alinsky's community organizing methods from the left

Some of the civic organizers we met were very savvy indeed about what it takes to get people involved and committed to a shared cause. [One organizer] worried that Tea Party meetings might become too focused on outside lecturers. He did not want people to be mere "spectators" and urged his group to set aside time for discussion and decisions about joint endeavors. A Tea Party organizer like him could sit down and have a very fruitful conversation about community organizing with the best leftists organizers we know. Indeed, some Tea Party members are explicit about borrowing from the left. A number of our interviewees cited the work of Saul Alinsky, the famed community organizer and author of "Rules for Radicals." Other Tea Party organizers arrive at the same sorts of insights based on lifetimes of civic experience and their own instincts about what it takes to build a vibrant local Tea Party.
Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 41-42 , Jan 2, 2012

Defining book: The Five Thousand Year Leap

"The 5000 Year Leap" is a book popular with many Tea Partiers for its elucidation of ties between the Bible and the Constitution. Written in 1981 by ultra-right ideologue Cleon Skousen, this book explains the US Constitution and the founding of the US in Biblical terms. All but forgotten for many years, the book found new life after Glenn Beck dubbed it "divinely inspired." One Arizonan Tea Party regular calls the book "one of our Bibles." Tea Party websites often refer to the books' conclusions in their discussion of America's religious heritage. In South Carolina, the Greenville Tea Party's website claims that the Founding Fathers used "28 fundamental beliefs to create a society based on morality, faith, and ethics," and that "more progress was achieved in the last 200 years than in the previous 5,000 years of every civilization combined"--2 claims drawn directly from Skousen's book. For these Tea Party members, Skousen provides proof that America is a "Republic with Christian-Judeo influences.
Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p. 51-52 , Jan 2, 2012

Separate Tea Party from GOP response to State of the Union

On January 25th, 2011, following the President's State of the Union address and the traditional response from the opposing party, President Obama duly delivered his address, and the officially designated GOP spokesman, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, delivered his party's rebuttal. But then CNN teamed up with Tea Party Express to broadcast yet another response to the President--by Michelle Bachman, Republican from Minnesota and the self-appointed chair of the House Tea Party Caucus! CNN's broadcast could give a casual viewer the false impression that the Tea Party was something apart from both major parties; consequently, in the aftermath, the network drew criticism from the right and the left for airing what was essentially a 2nd GOP response to Obama. But CNN defended its choice, claiming that the Tea Party "has become a major force in American politics." This did not explain, however, why one GOP politician was an appropriate mouthpiece for the entire complex phenomenon.
Source: The Remaking of Republican Conservatism, p.150 , Jan 2, 2012

Tea Partiers are Constitutional Conservatives

Tea partiers are also sometimes called constitutional conservatives, because we put so much emphasis, and rightly so, on the Constitution as the basic source of legitimate governmental authority. Too many Washington brokers haven't much cared what the Constitution stipulates--unless, of course, the issue is accused criminals and terrorists, in which case they tease out exaggerated theories of procedure to hamstring authorities. But constitutional conservatives do care.

Tea partiers and constitutionalists speak up for the common sense of ordinary Americans, who are instinctively suspicious of concentrated power and yet at the same time expect the government to be able to do a few things well,. Rather than a lot of things badly. You don't need to be a constitutional expert to see the need for due process and fair play when it comes to dealing with the IRS or the EPA or OSHA.

Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p.201 , Nov 21, 2011

OpEd: we love America & dislike what's happening to her

What I've learned from the Tea Party Express is this: the spark of patriotic indignation that inspired the Americans who fought for our freedom and independence has been ignited once again! Americans are reawakening to the ideas, the principles, the habits of the heart, and disciplines of the mind that America great. It's an AMERICAN awakening. It's coming from real people--not politicos or inside-the-Beltway types.

They've seen what is happening in America, so they've decided to get involved. They feel like they're losing something good and fundamental about their country, so they've decided to take it back, because they love this country and are proud to be Americans!

I realized that the Tea Partiers ARE normal Americans who haven't necessarily been involved in national politics before but are turned on to this movement because they love America and they don't like what they see happening to her. They're so concerned about the path we're on that they've decided to get involved.

Source: America by Heart, by Sarah Palin, p. xii-xiii , Nov 23, 2010

Contract From America: Our liberties are inherent

A Tea Party leader in Houston launched a website called ContractFromAmerica.com in mid-2009. He received thousands of ideas; a national online vote resulted in ten positions, presented at our Tax Day Tea Party on April 15, 2009:
    The Contract From America: Our moral, political, and economic liberties are inherent, not granted by government. The purpose of our government is to exercise only those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people. We call upon those seeking to represent us to work to bring each agenda item to a vote during the first year:
  1. Require each bill to identify its empowering provision of the Constitution
  2. Reject Cap-and-Trade
  3. Demand a Balanced Budget
  4. Enact fundamental tax reform
  5. Restore limited government by eliminating unconstitutional agencies
  6. End runaway government spending
  7. Defund, repeal, & replace Government-run health care
  8. Pass an All-of-the-Above energy policy
  9. Stop the Pork: moratorium on earmarks
  10. Stop the Tax Hikes.
Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.154-158 , Aug 17, 2010

Movement for change; including Alinsky Rules for Radicals

A whole new generation of eyeballs [have added] a few new classics to the activists' education. For instance, Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals"--the original protestor's handbook from the 1960s--has found a surprising readership among thousands of Tea Partiers. This transition may provide some insight into the political establishment devoted to change, not simple academic debate. The Tea Party movement understands the tenets of the philosophy so those principles can be put into practice.

This body of work has created the basis for a political framework for a new limited-government movement. The Left figured this out a long time ago. Theirs is not an idea-based movement; instead, they focus on organization and power.

As Saul Alinsky teaches, "change comes from power, and power comes from organization. In order to act, people must get together." Today, the Tea Party has the power to change America for the better.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p. 92-95 , Aug 17, 2010

A social movement, not a political party,& hence sustainable

There was growing recognition that the millions of people who self-identified with the Tea Party movement represented a potentially significant political force that needed to be covered by the press. It is understandable why they got it wrong. The Tea Party movement is decentralized. It is leaderless.

The sole purpose of a political party is to get candidates elected. Principles, on the other hand, are different. Good ideas stand up to scrutiny. The right principles and the best ideas pass the test of time.

The principle of individual freedom, fiscal responsibility, and constitutionally limited government are what define the Tea Party ethos. They bind us as a social movement. And that marked the Tea Party better than a political party--something that can sustain itself the day after the first Tuesday in November. The Tea Party is a far more potent force for social change in America because it will sustain itself beyond the next candidate's election.

Source: Give Us Liberty, by Rep. Dick Armey, p.121-123 , Aug 17, 2010

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Page last updated: May 05, 2021