Tea Party movement rises to political forefront

What is the Tea Party movement?

The Tea Party is a political fundamentalist movement motivated to bring the nation back to the roots of its existence and to maintain the values founded by the forefathers of the nation provided within the Constitution.

The movement is centered on the goal of upholding a conservative view of the constitution and ensuring citizens of the United States are able to claim the unalienable rights established in the constitution: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The movement strives to educate and mobilize citizens to secure a smaller government, ensure fiscal responsibility and maintain individual freedoms. Ultimately the goal is to secure the future economic liberty and save national sovereignty for those in the future.

Movement stems from American history:

The Tea Party movement draws its name from the anti-tax movement, the Boston Tea Party, which occurred on Dec. 16, 1773. During this time, American colonists had no representation within the British Parliament, which maintained the right to impose taxes on the colonists. When three ships full of tea arrived in the Boston Harbor, 200 men gathered and dumped all the cargos stored within the ship into the water.  This was one main event that lead to the start of the Revolutionary War.

Movement moves to political forefront:

In 2009, the movement came to the political scene when activists; unhappy with the government under President Barack Obama held a protest to stop the expanding free-spending federal government.   Activists were unhappy with the increasing national debt, the government’s economic policies and Obama’s healthcare agenda.

An inside perspective:

The Tea Party movement has grown significantly since its start in 2009. Mark Block is the state director of the Wisconsin Chapter of American’s for Prosperity; an organization of grassroots leaders dedicated engaging and educating citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on local, state and federal levels.

In a phone interview conducted on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2010, he describes the way the movement has expanded since the first Tea Party rally in April of 2009. He gives us an inside look at the movement within the state of Wisconsin.

Below is a summary of the interview:

“You’ve got to understand the history of the tea party movement in Wisconsin. It started on April 15th of 2009. We held the first tax payer tea party on the steps of the Capitol, in Madison Wisc. Over 8,000 people showed up," Block said.

At this time, Block says the Wisconsin administration had been in office for just over two months. Citizens who showed up at the rally were already concerned about the state of the economy and felt the administration was moving very fast in regards to legislative actions. From the months of April to August, Block had spoken at 25 different rallies across the state. He said the numbers of people who showed up during event rallies between April 15th to the August congressional recess were nothing short of “mind boggling”.

“It really culminated in August when the AFP held three town hall meetings in Madison on President Obama’s healthcare reform. At the meeting in Madison, 1,700 tax payers showed up.  In Lacrosse numbers met 600 and in Wausau, over 1,400 people showed up,” Block said.

Block continued, and again, described the number of people turning out for events as “nothing short of phenomenal.”

“The most interesting thing was that all across the state when I’d asked people if this was the first time they’d been involved in political rallies before, 80 percent of the hands from the crowd went up. It really is a movement; it’s not an organized effort from any one particular group," he said.

Block has also traveled across state boarders to participate in numerous Tea Party rallies. He said the Tea Party movement is already deeper than any of us have an understanding for.

“I think that the Tea Party movement, which quite frankly, has yet to be defined, is going to have such a profound effect on the election results on Nov. 2nd that it’s going to have historic proportions. I saw that not only by what I’ve witnessed in Wisconsin, but, I’ve traveled to other states in the last couple months. I was in Dayton, Ohio, where 4,000 people showed up for the Tea Party event,” Block said.

He described the people he has witnessed turning out for the events, and said many have never participated in political rallies before.

“I’ve never seen what I would call the average citizen getting engaged as much as they have than within this movement. I don’t mean just turning out for the event, but getting educated about the issues,” Block said.

To find out more about the Wisconsin chapter of the AFP, head to their website.

Movement Spreads Across America:

View a map and timeline of Tea Party events held in United States fom Jan. 1, 2009 to April 15, 2010.

Article and map by Chris Wilson of Slate.com

Tea Party Patriots:

Tea Party Patriots is a national grassroot organization that provides logistical, educational, networking and other types of support to over 1,000 community based tea party groups around the country.  The organization does not endorse specific candidates.

Minnesota North Star Tea Party Patriots is a state branch of the  Tea Party Patriots based out of Minneapolis.

The coalition is based on local free associations in the State of Minnesota, each identifying with the national Tea Party Patriots organization.

“So any organization across the state can join in with us, eligibility is based on the fact that you are a tea party member in the state of Minnesota and the you follow the basic tenants of the tea party organization,” said Jared Liebo a member of the North Star Tea Party Patriots in a phone interview conducted on Oct., 27, 2010.

He explained that the tea party movement is made up of people who claim varying political parties.

“The tea party group in Minneapolis and has a mailing list of 1,000 people. Within that, 20 percent claim to be Democratic,  20 percent claim Republican and a whole lot of people classify themselves as Independent," Liebo says.

Rick Santelli, a reporter for CNBC is widely credited with helping spark the Tea Party movement nationwide. Below is a YouTube link to the on-air presentation on the Floor of the Mercantile Exchange on Feb., 19, 2009.

View a breif history of the tea party activists who helped shape the movement:

Tea Party Taxonomy: David Weigel of Slate.com

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