History of the Tea Party

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The Tea Party, a conservative-populist movement, was formed around 2009 in the wake of President Barack Obama’s election. This movement is characterized by fiscally-conservative views, and is considered slightly more radical in it’s views than the Republican party. Big Business is a common target of Tea Party demands, as well as Big Government. The movement has been publicly represented by such Politicians as Ted Cruz, and has seen a notable rise in political sway among representative positions in recent years.

Tea Party History

Movements such as the Tea Party have, historically speaking, usually evolved from periods of economic difficulty within the United States. Arguably, the Tea Party can be seen as a similar response to the housing ‘crisis’ of 2008, which lead to an unprecedented amount of government spending in a panic to save portions of the United States’ financial sector. Throughout America’s history, similar movements have been seen in the Greenback and Granger movements, the William Jennings Populist Party, and even the Share Our Wealth program during the Great Depression. These types of movements are understandable grievances against governments that seem to be mishandling public interest and betraying trust, and are often characterized by faces that surge in public popularity almost overnight.

What many consider the catalyst for the Tea party’s denotation is the commentary of a CNBC reporter that referred to the Boston Tea Party movement in context to President Obama’s Mortage Relief plan. This political commentator spoke from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, citing the President’s plan as a means to subsidize bad corporate investments with taxpayer money (which it was). He then called for a Chicago Tea Party to protest this move, and that speech went viral on the internet, resonating with many citizens which shared resentment towards allowing corporate interests to be subsidized with taxpayer money.

Making A Movement

After the sensation of Chicago, many ‘chapters’ of the Tea Party movement began to spring up across the nation in protest to local politics and national interests. While these movements remained small for the most part, they would soon begin to get major traction. What started off as locally-organized groups coordinating through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, saw a nationally-coordinated series of protests on April 15th, 2009 that drew some 250,000 people across the nation. This is regarded as the ‘rise’ of the Tea Party by many, and was the notice that was needed to garner serious national attention.

With the momentum of the April 15th protests, local Tea Party advocates and members began a nation-wide bombardment of local political meetings such as town hall meetings, local voting, and government offices. These protests were fueled by media attention from such personalities as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, and other ‘fringe’-type networks that were now speaking to a newly-awakens demographic. As the Obama administration furthered their Quantitative Easement packages, extending access to additional tax-payer money for corporate interests, it seemed as if the voices of the Tea Party were only gaining more credibility in the face of rising National Debt.

Putting A Face to A Name

The Tea Party was claimed to be represented by many people during this period of time, but lacked any centralized leadership which could be regarded on the national level. On February 2010 Sarah Palin delivered the keynote address to the first National Tea Party Convention, and was largely regarded as being one of the major national representatives afterward. Additionally, Glen Beck became heavily involved at this point, and saw a surge in popularity on his website, theblaze.com. Senator Jim Demint offered public support for the movement, and represented the first vocal advocate from within the elected representatives of the United States—giving the movement a tremendous boost.

Also around this time, the  Tea Party demonstrated it’s ability to influence politics in a New York’s 23rd special election, in which Tea Party members rallied support for a conservative candidate Doug Hoffman. This political prowess seemed to backfire however, as the Democratic candidate ending up winning that local election. Nonetheless, the Tea Party’s ability to influence politics had been clearly demonstrated, and many were now leery of their involvement.

Building Power in the House & Senate

After their display of ability in the New York special election, several other candidates were elected to office following the support of the Tea Party. In the 2010 Midterm Elections, dozens of Tea Party candidates won Republican nominations for their respective Senate, House, and Governor positions. This race had shaped up to be a potentially policy-threatening race for the Obama Administration, and finally began to draw serious attacks from the liberally-aligned mainstream media stations. There was mixed reception by local political parties for the Tea Party candidates—some being endorsed by existing Republican party members, and others being being denounced. A notable election during this period was that of Libertarian Icon Ron Pauls‘ son, Rand Paul, to the Kentucky senate. Rand Paul identified powerfully with the ideals of the Tea Party, and was almost immediately considered to be one of the new faces of the movement.

While emotions surrounding the Tea Party’s involvement was mixed, at best, among the Republican party—one message was clear. Voters had clearly had enough rhetoric from the Democratic party and Republicans gained control of nearly 60 seats during this election. While Republicans offered little sympathy for Tea Party candidates during this period, many regard the surge in Republican influence to be largely tied into the national interest of politics generated by the Tea Party. It was also during this period in time that Agenda 21, the United Nations’ push for legislative access to American Sovereignty was included as a major opposition component to Republican and Tea Party platforms.

Shut it Down

Ted Cruz, sharing leadership regard with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, coasted to an easy victory in Texas during the 2012 election. His involvement in Tea Party issues became a pillar of his political existence, citing issue with big government and taxes at nearly every appearance. During the period of the Obamacare legislation and, the government shutdown, and growing public unrest with their elected officials ability to take action, Ted Cruz took the floor in face of a Senate vote on Obamacare which many assumed was to be a filibuster. This televised speech lasted some 20 hours, in which Ted Cruz talked about nearly everything related to government politics, Obamacare, and taxes one might imagine. However, after such a display of resilient determination, Cruz yielded the floor an hour before the vote was to take place, argued with Harry Reid, and seemingly affected no change.

Filling the Vacuum

This path to the current state of affairs within the Tea Party is meant as context for American Politics in their current state. The surge of popularity of the Tea Party, and it’s subsequent plateau of support, left a bit of a vacuum int he realm of conservative politics. Voters had become emotionally-invested in platforms of change, government downsizing, and a let-up on taxing. However, many Republicans now spoke in terms midway between Tea Party and typical party values, isolating themselves from many supporters. What was left in this wake were an activated support base with little candidacy to support.

Enter Donald J. Trump.

For all that he is, and isn’t, Donald Trump saw a demand among voters and worked effortlessly to meet it. His domination of media cycles by the constant outrageous blatherings related to social issues, public figures, and opponents ensured he was on the minds of millions during nearly every waking hour. His platform was focused around his inside knowledge of how easily money can influence American politics, and his stated determination to set things straight. His campaign motto ‘Make America Great Again” focused on reaching to a voter base that felt things were wrong in this country, and that they were once better. Seemingly nodding towards the Reagan-era supporters, Trump sailed his way through controversy after controversy into the position of being the Republican party nominee. While making no claims of Tea Party affiliation, and being denounced publicly several times by Ted Cruz, Donald Trump certainly was voted to become the face of Tea Party interests, but it seems that he managed to hijack much of the party’s momentum.

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