Although the Tea Party is referred to as a single entity, it is really a loose conglomeration of some national organisation and a plethora of groups formed in local neighbourhoods all over America. Standing for Taxed Enough Already, it took its inspiration from the 1773 Boston Tea Party protest against British colonialists.
A desire for small government, lower taxes and fidelity to the United States Constitution binds members together. There is a prevailing mood of anger towards Washington and a sense of having been conned. Mention the $700 billion (£448 billion) bailout, health care reform or cap and trade legislation and they will go into conniptions…
I happened to be in Cincinnati, Ohio and wanted to see a local event, rather than a big Tea Party rally, for myself. A few hours later, I was inside the Old Spaghetti Factory in Fairfield, Ohio.
Only a handful of the 100 or so people there knew I was a journalist. The event was a monthly meeting and open to the public. Quite a few had been among the 5,000 who gathered in Cincinnati’s Fountain Square in March 2009 for the first Tea Party event in southern Ohio. For some, it was the first time they had showed up.
The discussion ranged from the philosophical, pondering the role of government and the duties of citizens, to the practical, how to canvass and organise. And while there was certainly anger about the state of the country and disdain for Obama there was also humour and good cheer. Anyone could take the microphone, and many did.
It was clear that the group saw itself as watchdog rather than a lap dog of the Republican party. Ed Pharo, a US Army veteran and father of five, lamented the high level of taxation in Ohio. “One party didn’t do that,” he said. “Two parties did that. One was complicit with the other.”…
Katy Kern, leader of a Tea Party group in nearby Liberty Township. Sporting tea pot earrings, she told me that “Republican royalty” did not realise how independent the movement was. “This is their last chance. If they get in and screw it up, we’re bolting. They’ll find that this dog won’t hunt.”
Harnden also noted: “Many of its strong supporters don’t attend public meetings. ‘The Tea Party is more an attitude than anything organised,’ one Southern conservative told me.” If November produces a blowout, it will be due to the viral nature of the Tea Party’s interconnectedness.
Meanwhile, President Obama has all of a sudden started going to church. His rhetoric these days sounds a bit like Darth Vader or some other character from Star Wars. He must have finally seen the polls, which are almost universally terrible for him.
And Karl Rove won’t get off Christine O’Donnell’s case. What’s up with that?