What is the Tea Party? Unbiased, Independent Political Analysis of the
Tea Party and Tea Party Movement

FAQ - What is the Tea Party, and What is the Tea Party Movement?

Clear and Direct Answers - Tenets of the Modern Day Tea Party Movement

What is the Tea Party?

The Tea Party is a political movement that largely began in 2009 with protests that were sponsored both locally and nationally. 

What type of “movement” is the Tea Party?

The Tea Party is essentially a populist movement urging political change for the benefit of the people. The focus is on fiscal conservatism.

How does the Tea Party align with other political movements or parties?

In general the movement is considered conservative as well as libertarian, favoring decreased taxes as well as decreased spending by the government. So far the Tea Party has endorsed Republican candidates.

Also see: Tea Party Platform;  Tea Party Ideas;  Tea Partiers;  Voice of the Tea Party

What are some other important aspects of the Tea Party movement?

Other hallmarks of the Tea Party movement include reducing the federal budget deficit as well as the national debt, and advocating the country’s adherence to the original interpretation of the U.S. Constitution with the belief that the judiciary should only uphold the law and not create new law.

What are the Tea Party protests?

The Tea Party protests occurred beginning in 2009 and took place across the country as part of the larger Tea Party movement demanding fiscal responsibility by politicians. 

Also advocated was an adherence to the Constitution, individual freedom and smaller government as well as lower taxes.

What were some of the prominent Tea Party protests?

The first major “Tea Party” protest occurred on Feb. 27, 2009 and was against the TARP bailout bill and the ARRA stimulus bill. TARP stands for Troubled Assets Relief Program and had been signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush. The ARRA stands for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and was signed ten days before the protest by President Barack Obama.

Another Tea Party protest took place on April 15 of 2009 (Tax Day in the U.S.), another on the Fourth of July, and another on Sept. 12, 2009 in commemoration of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

A sustained Tea Party protest took place for one week beginning Mar. 14, 2010 to protest the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act during the final week of debate on the bill. It was later signed by President Barack Obama on Mar. 23, 2010. 

The major health care reform bill was advocated by President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress, which also passed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act signed by Obama on Mar. 30, 2010.

What were the major goals of the Tea Party movement in 2010?

The primary activities of the Tea Party movement in 2010 centered around opposing efforts by the Obama administration to enact the sweeping changes to health care mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

In addition to the health care reform protests by the Tea Party movement in 2010, there were also significant efforts to recruit and support political candidates to the carry the Tea Party movement message in both state and national elections.

What is the Tea Party?

Is the Tea Party a United States political party?

The Tea Party movement is not a registered national political party as of Feb., 2010 and “Tea Party” or “Tea Party Movement” has not appeared on any ballots. However there is a U.S. political party called the Boston Tea Party which advocates a libertarian ideology and was named after the famous 1773 Boston Tea Party. 

The Boston Tea Party was formed in 2006 by former Libertarian Party members with the agenda of reducing the power of government (including its size and scope) on all issues and at all levels.

What was the “Boston Tea Party” all about, in a nutshell?

When the British taxed America’s tea in 1773 the colonists rebelled. The took tea from ships docked at the harbor on Boston and threw it in the ocean. The colonists insisted on no taxation without representation which has become the rallying cry of the modern Tea Party movement as well.

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Does the Tea Party movement have a central leadership?

No

Who determines the agendas and platforms of the Tea Party movement?

Local and national Tea Party movement groups each determine their own platform as well as their agenda. Many of these groups maintain a loose affiliation with other Tea Party movement groups both locally and nationally. 

This lack of central leadership in the Tea Party movement has been a cornerstone of its grass roots nature.

What caused the sudden rise of the Tea Party movement? Some say it was caused by the bank bailouts that began with President George W. Bush and continued under the administration of President Barack Obama. 

A significant number of people felt that no one in government was listening to their protests against increasing deficits, spending and taxes.

Who are the people in the Tea Party movement?

Various polls and surveys have yielded conflicting results on who the people who lead and subscribe to the tenets of the Tea Party movement. It is generally agreed that the Tea Party movement constituency is predominantly white. Some polls say there are slightly more males than females while others say females are the majority, and in particular, mothers.

Most of the Tea Party movement constituency is older than 45 and are married, and they tend to be generally more conservative than the general population and are most likely to be registered as Republicans and hold favorable views of the Republican party and negative views of the Democratic Party.

Tea Party Supporters Better Educated

The people in the Tea Party movement also tend to have more education than the general population and are wealthier. Aside from the political differences, income and gender the Tea Party movement members are demographical similar to the general population.

Some prominent polls from respected sources (e.g., Bloomberg, Gallup) have said that nearly half of the members of the Tea Party movement are “born-again” Christians in contrast to an estimated 34% in the general population. 

An estimated 40% of the Tea Party constituency was said to be older than 55 with 79% being white, in contrast to about 23% of the general population being older than 55 and 75% being white.

A Gallup poll claimed about four-fifths of Tea Partiers were Republicans leading some to believe the Tea Party movement is somewhat of a rebranding of traditional Republican policies and candidates. 

Others see a much broader movement going on that is indeed forcing a reshaping of both major political parties including the Republicans who need to either heed the Tea Party call or face being voted out.

Tea Party - An Umbrella Term

At this point there is no single “Tea Party.” The term is an umbrella descriptor that includes a wide array of people from those on the fringe of the political mainstream to independents, religious conservatives, and other groups. 

Tea Party Bring New Faces into Politics

The Tea Party includes many people who have never even been involved in politics before or attended a rally and are now suddenly taking a strong interest in supporting the Tea Party principles.

Most notable among the Tea Party principals is the ideology of fiscal conservatism and the desire to decrease taxes, government spending and government deficits as well as the overall size of government and its involvement in the lives of U.S. citizens.

Who are some prominent figures of the Tea Party movement?

Most notable nationally in regards to their connection with the Tea Party Movement is former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin who was the first woman governor of Alaska from 2006 until she resigned in 2009.

Also prominently associated with the Tea Party movement is Dick Armey (Richard Keith “Dick” Armey) who was a United States Representative from Texas (1985 to 2003) and also served as the House Majority Leader (1995 to 2003).

What is the Tea Party?

When was the first Tea Party protest?

A 2008 fundraising event for Republican Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential run was held on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party and advocated the upholding of States’ rights and end to the Federal Reserve System among other ideas. However the even did not specifically conjure the term Tea Party movement.

On Jan. 24 2009 a “Tea Party” protest was organized by the Young Americans for Liberty, a group chaired by Trevor Leach. The event was held in response to more than 100 taxes being imposed by New York Governor David Paterson.

Some of the protesters at this “Tea Party” protest adorned themselves with Native American headdresses as occurred in the original Boston Tea Party protest when the colonists wore similar costumes as they tossed tea in Boston Harbor to protest the British taxation of their tea.

This was followed by other protests spurred on by federal laws involving large amounts of spending including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009) and health care reform.

Some tea party style protests were organized in early 2009 advocating and end to wasteful spending and other staunch Tea Party concepts, however the term “Tea Party” was not specifically used.

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April 15, 2009 Tax Day Tea Party Rallies 

On April 15, Tax Day, in 2009 a “Tea Party” protest occurred in Seattle which which had been preceded by two other similar protests and each had increased attendance. The Tax Day Tea Party protest drew 1,200 people. These events were orgnized by Keli Carender, a conservative activist and Seattle blogger.

When did the Tea Party movement being to coalesce on a national level?

Many believe that the modern Tea Party movement gained a national foothold due to an event that occurred on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Rick Santelli, the Business News editor for CNBC, was broadcasting live from the trading floor and began to openly criticize mortgage refinancing plans announced by the U.S. government.

Santelli claimed that the government’s refinancing plans were promoting “bad behavior” because they were subsidizing mortgages that should not be subsidized. Santelli then suggested that a tea party should be held for the traders on July 1 so they could toss all of their derivatives into the Chicago River.

Tea Party Suggestion on Floor of Exchange Becomes Viral Video Sensation

As Santelli said this numerous traders on the floor of the Exchange cheered him while the hosts in the studio were amused by the events. This footage was then shown on the Drudge Report and proceed to become a “viral video” widely seen around the nation and world via the internet.

Very quickly numerous “Tea Party” related websites were launched and began to garner significant internet traffic, and Tea Party events began to be scheduled for July 4, Independence Day.

A National Tea Party Movement Begins to Take Shape

And it was these events that many believe caused the “Tea Party” to begin to coalesce under nationally and guests on talk shows began to talk about the new “Tea Party.” Many people begin to get involved and form their own answer to the question of "What is the Tea Party movement?".

Facebook Page Organizes Nationwide Tea Party Protest

On February 20 a Facebook page was established to organize Tea Party protests across the country, one result being the Nationwide Chicago Tea Party protest which took place on February 27, 2009 and included 40 different cities. 

The Nationwide Tea Party protest was considered to be the nation’s first modern Tea Party protest.

What is the Tea Party?

Are there any Tea Party umbrella groups or national coordinating bodies for the Tea Party movement?

Several organizations have emerged including the website-based teapartypatriots.org which has nearly 3,000 local affiliates. Several dozen local tea party groups are loosely organized as the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition.

The National Tea Party Convention that took place on Feb. 4 to Feb. 6, 2010 was sponsored by the Tea Party Nation and featured Sarah Palin as a speaker. 

A group called the National Tea Party Federation was established on April 8, 2010 by several people who were already leaders in the Tea Party movement. 

In July of 2010 Minnesota Republican Representative Michele Bachmann created and chairs the congressional Tea Party Caucus which focuses on Tea Party principles including limiting government, adhering to the United States Constitution and maintaining strict fiscal responsibility. 

Because the Tea Party Caucus is largely Republican some have accused them of trying to hijack or co-opt the real grass-roots Tea Party movement.

Also see: Tea Party Platform Tea Party Ideas;  Tea Partiers;  Voice of the Tea Party

What influence did the Tea Party supporters have in the 2010 elections?

Candidates who were endorsed by the Tea Party supporters succeeded in upsetting numerous established politicians during the 2010 election cycle. This began in the primaries where Republicans were ousted in South Carolina, Utah, Colorado, Alaska, Delaware and Florida. 

Of the 138 candidates for Congress in the 2010 midterm elections that had substantial Tea Party support, all were running as Republicans. Nine ran for the Senate and 129 for the House of Representatives.

Of the estimated 35% of of voters in support of the Tea Party, nearly 85% of these voters preferred Republican candidates while just ten percent preferred Democratic candidates.

One notable candidate who was endorsed by the Tea Party and then victorious in the 2010 election cycle is Scott Brown who was elected as the United States Senator from Massachusetts in the special election that was held after the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy. 

The very first Tea Party activist to be elected to office is believed to be Long Island businessman Dean Murray who won a special election for a seat in the New York State Assembly. The Tea Party supporters and Tea Party candidates secured many other victories in the 2010 election cycle.

The Tea Party backed Randal “Rand” Paul, the son of Republican Texas Congressman Ron Paul, easily defeated the Republican party establishment backed Trey Grayson in the Super Tuesday GOP primary despite never having held office before.

After getting 60% of the vote, Paul said that the Tea Party movement had the goal of “saving our country from a mountain of debt.” Rand Paul is now the United States Senator from Kentucky. There is a long list of Tea Party backed candidates who were successful in the 2010 election cycle.

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