As a person who was intimately involved in the Tea Party movement from the first day of Rick Santelli's famous rant in February, I'm chagrined at the false statements I continue to read and hear in the media about this phenomenon. (Here's Rick's rant: http://tinyurl.com/c4kwy7.)
The Tea Party movement began when CNBC media-guy Rick Santelli announced in frustration that we should have a Boston Tea Party. He was outraged at the recent succession of government spending, TARP, bailouts, and the then-current concept that taxpayers would help save irresponsible homeowners from pending foreclosure. Millions of us had been talking to each other about this for weeks leading up to Rick's rant, so nothing he said came as a surprise to us, but we were certainly stunned that any conservative point of view would ever be portrayed via the MSM.
Most conservatives are, by definition, financially responsible, and many of us have supported financially irresponsible relatives, from time to time, or year-in year-out. Additionally, conservatives tend to be one of the biggest givers to charity, if you analyze us as a statistical group. (Read more in the book by Arthur C. Brooks, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism". Incidentally, this book was researched and written by a staunch Democrat who was not expecting the research results which stared him baldly in the face.)
Conservatives understand very well the nature of hard work and its rewards, financial responsibility and thrift, charity and the general character failings of many (not ALL) charitable recipients which lead to their poverty in the first place. As a person who grew up in poverty, lacking proper food, clothing and medical care, I can attest that much of this type of life-style is self-induced. My mother had money for cigarettes and alcohol and babysitters and bars every day, yet we'd consistently run out of heating oil during New York winters. And it was a mere decision not to repeat that lifestyle that gave me the wherewithall to climb out of that hole. I simply got educated, worked hard, got promoted, minimized common expenses (like vacations), and eventually had a decent salary and savings. What's more, I never once believed that this was not achievable, because this is America, and that's what we do here. It was simply my turn to do it!
Back to the Tea Parties...these events were commonly compared to tax protests, because the Boston Tea Party was a tax protest, and because the event took place on Tax Day, April 15, thus the name National Tax Day Tea Parties. But these events weren't simply about taxes--they were entirely about fiscal responsibility. There has been $65,000,000,000,000. in new spending thus far with the Obama administration. That's "trillion dollars". That's more government spending than all of the previous American presidential regimes COMBINED. And obviously, the U.S. government does not "have money". It gets money by either taxing it from its citizens or by borrowing it (to be repaid in the future via taxation of its citizens). So yes, this is about taxes, but it's also about a much bigger picture of horrendous financial irresponsibility, something which conservatives are so careful not to do with their personal finances nor with their business finances. When we see our President and his minions incurring debt like this, we're stunned at their stupidity. If WE know that this kind of debt will wreck our country in myriad ways, why don't they know it too? The answer is, they know it. They're doing it on purpose. From the Obama administation's point of view, this is about power, and they're willing to toss aside our country to achieve that power. (Think about it: nobody actually sat around in a meeting and decided that incurring $65 trillion dollars in new debt would be a good idea. This is elementary. And anyone who reads that statement and disagrees with me is frankly delusional.)
The Tea Parties were not organized by politicians nor famous political leaders. The Tea Parties were organized online and in house meetings by conservative grassroots voters-turned-activists, largely those on Twitter. Anyone who doubts this could easily select random conservatives on Twitter, read their postings going back to February, and see that we'd been talking about this and planning these events for 8 weeks leading up to April 15. Citizen activists. No more, no less.
While it may be true that some legislators, Republican party leaders, and talk show hosts jumped on the Tea Party bandwagon and helped publicize the Tea Parties, they were rarely involved in the planning, and frequently denied the opportunity to speak at the events. It was important for the grassroots voters to welcome conservatives from all political parties to these events (yes, there are even conservative Democrats!), and we knew that heavy Republican sponsorship and presence at these events would make Democrats, Independents, and Libertarians feel less welcome.
Lastly, I want to say with excitement and pride that there were at least 17 cities and towns in Colorado which hosted National Tax Day Tea Parties! As one of the grassroots voters who participated in getting the word out, I was thrilled to see more and more locations on the Colorado Tea Party map. You guys did a great job, and I'm very proud of you!