In the last few decades there has been no political movement comparable to the Tea Parties. The Tea Party Movement is unique because it is entirely grassroots and desires to change American politics from the bottom-up. The mainstream media and the Democratic leadership all misunderstand and grossly underestimate the movement. They have labeled it a movement of extreme right-wing nuts that are angry at having a black President, or don’t want to pay taxes, or “cling to guns and religion”.

9-12_Wasington_Tea_Party_Pictures_Big_PictureThey are wrong. In fact, the Tea Party Movement is a mainstream “awakening” that has been long overdue and will not whither and die within a couple years as some predict.

The Tea Party groups are a loose and decentralized coalition of libertarians, conservatives, disenchanted independents and moderate democrats. Tea Partiers are not a concentrated group of ideologues but a diverse collection of regular groups that are alarmed at the direction of the country. It began with the wasteful Stimulus Package and was further amplified by taxes built into cap’n’trade and healthcare reform. Tea Partiers are also upset at the corruption and utter lack of transparency in the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress.

The biggest issues for Tea Partiers are excessive government spending, the economy and the expansion of government power over the past two years. Some tea party groups may have additional issues of concern or have differing priorities but nearly all tea party groups share these concerns. Tea Partiers also share three core ideals: (1) limited government/individual freedom; (2) fiscal responsibility; and (3) free markets. They strongly support limiting the power of the federal government and are alarmed at the dramatic increase in federal power. Tea Partiers are also outraged at the massive budget deficits, the growth of the national debt, and the generational theft taking place. Finally, they are strong proponents of economic freedom and believe strongly that President Obama and the Democratic Congress are dismantling are free market economy in favor of a more centralized, socialist economy.

Another important element of the movement is their attitude toward partisan politics. Tea Partiers have consistently expressed their frustration and discontent with the Republicans as well as Democrats. In general, Tea Partiers are anti-establishment and want wholesale changes in their representatives. They are highly suspicious of career politicians and the influence of the national party leadership in local elections. As a result, they have rejected the traditional or establishment candidates in a number of primaries, preferring more independent or activist candidates.

The Tea Party Movement is not all-white, all-conservative, violent or racist. These accusations have been thrown out without any evidence to back them up. Polls have found that supporters of the Tea Party Movement are largely mainstream in terms of demographics. About 49% of Tea Party supporters are Republican while a surprising 43% are independents. They come from every socio-economic class, age group, and ethnic group. Only 79% of Tea Party supporters are white which is comparable to the percentage of whites in the general population. Despite the despicable accusations of Democrats and elitist media personalities, Tea Partiers are representative of the American people in almost every way.

imagesAnother baseless accusation is that Tea Partiers are violent gun-touting maniacs. The movement does not advocate the violent overthrow of the government. At nearly every demonstration and protest, Tea Partiers have countless signs reading “remember in November”. Tea Partiers want change through elections not gunfire. Like any other movement, there are individuals that are unhinged and violent, but the media’s focus on this extremely small sect demonstrates their lack of integrity and liberal bias. In reality, the Tea Party Movement is one of the most peaceful large scale political protests in recent memory.

The objective of the Tea Party Movement is to change the Republican Party from within. The Tea Parties have already flexed their muscle in a number of primary elections. In Illinois, the son of former Speaker Dennis Hastert was defeated by a lesser-known Tea Party candidate named Randy Hultgren. In the Nevada and Kentucky Senate primaries the Republican establishment strongly supported Sue Lowden and Tray Grayson. However, their close relations with the party leadership led to suspicion and their eventual defeat to lesser known candidates Sharron Angle and Rand Paul.

The Tea Party Movement has also contributed to the removal of incumbent Republicans including Sen. Arlen Specter, who was forced to switch parties. Other defeated incumbents include Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina and Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah. The primaries of the past few months clearly demonstrate the Tea Party Movement is very influential within the Republican Party and has already had a number of successes getting their own candidates on the ballot in November. In other words, they are successfully changing the party.

Restore America’s Legacy and the Tea Party Movement have a lot in common in terms of ideology. The Tea Party strongly supports three of RAL’s five principles (limited government, fiscal responsibility, free markets). The Tea Party has also made a very strong effort to become better informed and more active in the traditional political process. RAL wishes to do the same, providing information to supporters, raising funds to support campaigns, and evaluating candidates using a unique and selective criteria. Both also are highly critical of career politicians and want to support candidates with real world experience.

The Tea Party Movement is a positive development in American politics and RAL strongly supports their activities. If the Tea Party Movement is successful in the Midterm elections, it will prove that career politicians can be held accountable and that it is the people that hold the power. It would also prove that a strong anti-establishment and anti-government movement can manifest itself peacefully through a massive grassroots effort and legitimate political activity, not intimidation or violence. It will also strike a blow to cynics who believe that the people cannot change Washington. RAL hopes the Tea Party Movement will succeed in its efforts to bring new leadership to Congress in 2010 and to the White House in 2012.


J. Wesley Fox is the Chairman of Restore America’s Legacy PAC. He is a recent graduate of DePaul University College of Law and has been active in local and national politics for several years. He currently lives in New Jersey after growing up in the Chicago suburbs.

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