Impeach Obama bumper sticker
The Tea Party movement is an American political movement that advocates strict adherence to the United States Constitution, reducing U.S. government spending and taxes, and reduction of the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit. The movement is generally considered to be partly conservative, partly libertarian, and partly populist. The movement has sponsored protests and supported political candidates since 2009. The theme of the Boston Tea Party, an iconic event in American history, has long been used by anti-tax protesters. It was part of Tax Day protests held throughout the 1990s and earlier. By 2001, a custom had developed among some conservative activists of mailing tea bags to legislators and other officials as an act of symbolism. Contents 1 Agenda 1.1 Contract from America 1.2 Foreign policy 2 Organization 3 Etymology 4 History 4.1 Early local protest events 4.2 First national protests 4.3 Health care bill 4.4 2010 election 4.5 2012 election 4.6 Current status 5 Composition 5.1 Membership and demographics 5.2 Polling of supporters 5.3 Leadership and groups 6 Fundraising and support 6.1 Influence of Koch Industries 7 Ground game and Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts 7.1 Tea Party ground game/GOTV before 2012 7.2 Challenge of the ground game for the Tea Party in the 2012 election cycle 7.3 Tea Party shifts focus from demonstrations to ground game/GOTV 8 Public opinion 8.1 2010 Polling 8.2 After debt-ceiling crisis 8.3 2012 Polling 9 Symbols and names 9.1 Symbols 9.2 Use of term "teabagger" 10 Commentaries on the movement 10.1 Commentary by the Obama administration 11 Media coverage 11.1 Tea Party's views of media coverage 12 On issues of race, bigotry and public perception 13 Other events 14 See also 15 Notes 16 Further reading 17 External links Agenda According to the New York Times, "The Tea Party agenda is not well defined, though it is anti-government, anti-spending, anti-immigration and anti-compromise politics." According to Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, America is locked in a culture war between the country as being an "exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise—limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces" or as a country determined by "European-style statism". Brooks states that while some have tried to criticize the tea party, they are part of an ideological movement to preserve the former and oppose the latter. Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, an organization that offers training for many Tea Party activists, believes this movement is not about political parties, stating, "It's very much anti-establishment at both parties ... They don't care about party labels." He has also said that "I think we're getting to the point where you can truly say we're entering a post-party era. They aren't going to be necessarily wed to a certain party—they want to see leadership that reflects their values first ... They don't care what party you're in; they just want to know if you reflect their values—limited government, fixing the economy." Contract from America Main article: Contract from America The Contract from America was the idea of Houston-based lawyer Ryan Hecker. He stated that he developed the concept of creating a grassroots call for reform prior to the April 15, 2009, Tax Day Tea Party rallies. To promote his idea, he launched a website, ContractFromAmerica.com, which encouraged people to offer possible planks for the contract. Identify constitutionality of every new law: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does (82.03%). Reject emissions trading: Stop the "cap and trade" administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. (72.20%). Demand a balanced federal budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax modification. (69.69%) Simplify the tax system: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words – the length of the original Constitution. (64.9%). Audit federal government agencies for constitutionality: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in an audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities. (63.37%). Limit annual growth in federal spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%). Repeal the health care legislation passed on March 23, 2010: De-fund, repeal, and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (56.39%). Pass an "all-of-the-above" energy policy: Authorize the exploration of additional energy reserves to reduce American dependence on foreign energy sources and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation. (55.5%). Reduce earmarks: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a two-thirds majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%). Reduce taxes: Permanently repeal all recent tax increases, and extend permanently the George W. Bush temporary reductions in income tax, capital gains tax, and estate taxes, currently scheduled to end in 2011. (53.38%). The Tea Party Patriots have asked both Democrats and Republicans to sign on to the Contract. No Democrats signed on, and the contract met resistance from some Republicans who since created "Commitment to America". Candidates in the 2010 elections who signed the Contract from America included Utah's Mike Lee, Nevada's Sharron Angle, Sen. Coburn (R-OK), and Sen. DeMint (R-SC). Foreign policy This section contains information of unclear or questionable importance or relevance to the article's subject matter. Please help improve this article by clarifying or removing superfluous information. (September 2012) In an August 2010 article for Foreign Policy magazine, Ron Paul outlined foreign policy views the Tea Party movement should emphasize: "[W]e cannot stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad. We cannot talk about fiscal responsibility while spending trillions on occupying and bullying the rest of the world ... I see tremendous opportunities for movements like the Tea Party to prosper by capitalizing on the Democrats' broken promises to overturn the George W. Bush administration's civil liberties abuses and end the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A return to the traditional U.S. foreign policy of active private engagement but government noninterventionism is the only alternative that can restore our moral and fiscal health." Walter Russell Mead analyzes the foreign policy views of the Tea Party movement in a 2011 essay published in Foreign Affairs. Mead says that Jacksonian populists, such as the Tea Party, combine a belief in American exceptionalism and its role in the world with skepticism of American's "ability to create a liberal world order". When necessary, they favor total war and unconditional surrender over "limited wars for limited goals". Mead identifies two main trends, one somewhat personified by Ron Paul and the other by Sarah Palin. "Paulites" have a Jeffersonian, "neo-isolationist" approach that seeks to avoid foreign military involvement. "Palinites", while seeking to avoid being drawn into unnecessary conflicts, favor a more aggressive response to maintaining America's primacy in international relations. Mead says that both groups share a distaste for "liberal internationalism". Many members of the House Tea Party Caucus and other Tea Party affiliated Republicans, such as Michelle Bachmann, Jeff Duncan, Connie Mack IV, Jeff Flake, Tim Scott, Joe Walsh, Allen West, Jason Chaffetz and voted for progressive Dennis Kucinich's resolution to withdraw from Libya. In the Senate, many Tea Party backed Republicans such as Jim DeMint, Mike Lee and Michael Crapo voted to limit foreign aid to Libya, Pakistan and Egypt and Tea Partiers in both houses of Congress have shown willingness to cut foreign aid. As a result, the Tea Party has shown it is largely distinct from the neoconservative and liberal internationalist viewpoints on foreign policy, while not totally endorsing the non-interventionist approach of the paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians. Some Republicans with links to the Tea Party, however, like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan have embraced the neoconservative foreign policy through their votes on bills such as these. Organization The Tea Party movement is composed of a loose affiliation of national and local groups that determine their own platforms and agendas without central leadership. The Tea Party movement has been cited as an example of grassroots political activity, although it has also been described as an example of astroturfing. The Tea Party movement is not a national political party; polls show that most Tea Partiers consider themselves to be Republicans and the movement's supporters have tended to endorse Republican candidates. Commentators, including Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport, have suggested that the movement is not a new political group but simply a re-branding of traditional Republican candidates and policies. An October 2010 Washington Post canvass of local Tea Party organizers found 87% saying "dissatisfaction with mainstream Republican Party leaders" was "an important factor in the support the group has received so far". The Tea Party movement's membership includes notable Republican politicians Ron Paul, his son Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Dick Armey, and Michele Bachmann. Joshua Green has said the elder Paul is not the Tea Party's founder, or its culturally resonant figure, but has become the "intellectual godfather" of the movement as many now agree with his long-held beliefs. In July 2010, Michele Bachmann formed the Tea Party Congressional Caucus, which now contains 66 members. Etymology The name "Tea Party" is a reference to the Boston Tea Party, a protest by colonists who objected to a British tax on tea in 1773 and demonstrated by dumping British tea taken from docked ships into the harbor. Some commentators have referred to the Tea in "Tea Party" as the backronym "Taxed Enough Already". History See also: Tax revolt, List of Tea Party protests, 2009, and List of Tea Party protests, 2010 Fox News commentator Juan Williams argues that the Tea Party movement emerged from the "ashes" of Ron Paul's 2008 presidential primary campaign. Others have argued that the Koch brothers were essential in fostering the movement. Early local protest events Perhaps the first "Tea Party" event on record was an event for Ron Paul dubbed "Boston TeaParty07" on December 16, 2007. This event included the throwing of boxes labeled "tea" and "IRS" among others, into the bay. This event was also notable in making online "Money Bomb" history as the largest one-day fundraising event at $6.5 million. On January 24, 2009, Trevor Leach, chairman of the Young Americans for Liberty in New York State organized a "Tea Party" to protest obesity taxes proposed by New York Governor David Paterson and call for fiscal responsibility on the part of the government. Several of the protesters wore Native American headdresses similar to the band of 18th century colonists who dumped tea in Boston Harbor to express outrage about British taxes. Some of the protests were partially in response to several Federal laws: the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and a series of healthcare reform bills. New York Times journalist Kate Zernike reported that leaders within the Tea Party credit Seattle blogger and conservative activist Keli Carender with organizing the first Tea Party in February 2009, although the term "Tea Party" was not used. Other articles, written by Chris Good of The Atlantic and NPR's Martin Kaste, credit Carender as "one of the first" Tea Party organizers and state that she "organized some of the earliest Tea Party-style protests". Carender first organized what she called a "Porkulus Protest" in Seattle on Presidents Day, February 16, the day before President Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill into law. Carender said she did it without support from outside groups or city officials. "I just got fed up and planned it." Carender said 120 people participated. "Which is amazing for the bluest of blue cities I live in, and on only four days notice! This was due to me spending the entire four days calling and emailing every person, think tank, policy center professors (that were sympathetic), etc. in town, and not stopping until the day came." Contacted by Carender, Steve Beren promoted the event on his blog four days before the protest and agreed to be a speaker at the rally. Carender also contacted conservative author and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, and asked her to publicize the rally on her blog, which Malkin did the day before the event. The following day, the Colorado branch of Americans for Prosperity held a protest at the Colorado Capitol, also promoted by Malkin. Carender held a second protest on February 27, 2009, reporting "We more than doubled our attendance at this one." According to pollster Scott Rasmussen, the bailouts of banks by the Bush and Obama administrations triggered the Tea Party's rise. The interviewer[clarification needed] added that the movement's anger centers on two issues, quoting Rasmussen as saying, "They think federal spending, deficits and taxes are too high, and they think no one in Washington is listening to them, and that latter point is really, really important." First national protests Ron Paul Ron Paul On February 19, 2009, in a broadcast from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CNBC Business News editor Rick Santelli criticized the government plan to refinance mortgages, which had just been announced the day before. He said that those plans were "promoting bad behavior" by "subsidizing losers' mortgages". He suggested holding a tea party for traders to gather and dump the derivatives in the Chicago River on July 1. A number of the floor traders around him cheered on his proposal, to the amusement of the hosts in the studio. Santelli's "rant" became a viral video after being featured on the Drudge Report. Overnight, websites such as ChicagoTeaParty.com (registered in August 2008 by Chicagoan Zack Christenson, radio producer for conservative talk show host Milt Rosenberg,) were live within 12 hours. About 10 hours after Santelli's remarks, reTeaParty.com was bought to coordinate Tea Parties scheduled for Independence Day and, as of March 4, was reported to be receiving 11,000 visitors a day. According to The New Yorker writer Ben McGrath and New York Times reporter Kate Zernike, this is where the movement was first inspired to coalesce under the collective banner of "Tea Party". By the next day, guests on Fox News had already begun to mention this new "Tea Party". As reported by The Huffington Post, a Facebook page was developed on February 20 calling for Tea Party protests across the country. Soon, the "Nationwide Chicago Tea Party" protest was coordinated across over 40 different cities for February 27, 2009, thus establishing the first national modern Tea Party protest. The movement has been supported nationally by at least 12 prominent individuals and their associated organizations. Fox News called many of the protests in 2009 "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties" which it promoted on air and sent speakers to. This was to include then-host Glenn Beck, though Fox came to discourage him from attending later events. Health care bill [icon] This section requires expansion. (August 2012) Opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been consistent within the Tea Party movement. 2010 election Marco Rubio Marco Rubio Main article: List of Tea Party politicians In 2010 Tea Party-endorsed candidates upset established Republicans in several primaries, such as Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Nevada, New York, South Carolina, and Utah, giving a new momentum to the conservative cause in the 2010 elections. In the 2010 midterm elections, The New York Times identified 138 candidates for Congress with significant Tea Party support, and reported that all of them were running as Republicans—of whom 129 were running for the House and 9 for the Senate. The Wall Street Journal–NBC News poll in mid October showed 35% of likely voters were Tea-party supporters, and they favored the Republicans by 84% to 10%. However, some question the effectiveness of the Tea Party to endorse candidates; according to Alexandra Moe, only 32% of the candidates that were backed by the Tea Party, or were on a ballot line with a "Tea Party" name, won the election. Especially the Tea-party backed Senate Republican nominees for: Colorado, Nevada and Delaware, who had all defeated "establishment" Republicans that were expected to win the Senate races. The three Senate nominees were seen by many in America and the media as either amateurs or too far-out there to be electable as their positions on certain aspects were viewed as extreme. On January 19, 2010, Republican Scott Brown was elected as the U.S. senator from Massachusetts in the special election held after Ted Kennedy's death. The election was notable in that Massachusetts is normally a solidly pro-Democratic state. Brown received Tea Party support. Dean Murray, a Long Island businessman, won a special election for a New York State Assembly seat. He is believed to be the first Tea Party activist to be elected into office. In Utah attorney Mike Lee defeated establishment Republican U.S. Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) in the GOP senate primary on May 8, 2010. Lee's win is seen as a victory for the Tea Party Movement, whose supporters were against Bennett's return. Rand Paul, who gave a speech at the first tea party event held in December 2007 and who subsequently endorsed by other Tea Party groups, won the Super Tuesday GOP Senate primary in Kentucky. Paul, the son of Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, comfortably beat Republican establishment favorite Trey Grayson with 60% of the vote, and subsequently won in the November general election. He was quoted saying, "The Tea Party Movement is about saving our country from a mountain of debt." In the South Carolina first Congressional District GOP Primary, Tea Party favorite Tim Scott, defeated two establishment Republicans with long family histories in Republican politics: Paul Thurmond, son of the former South Carolina U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond. and Carroll Campbell, son of former South Carolina Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. Scott has spent one term in the South Carolina House, where the businessman became the first African American GOP representative in more than 100 years. Nikki Haley, a 38-year-old Indian-American state representative, beat out three prominent Republican rivals in the South Carolina primary race for governor, capturing 49% of the vote. She defeated the second-place finisher, U.S. Representative Gresham Barrett, in a run-off election on June 22. In California, Chuck DeVore, who had Tea Party backing, lost the GOP senate primary to Carly Fiorina, who had backing from Sarah Palin. But she lost on November 2, 2010, to Boxer. In Nevada, Sharron Angle won the U.S. Senate Republican primary race, defeating the GOP favorite, Sue Lowden, the one-time front runner. Angle was defeated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In Alaska, attorney Joe Miller defeated current U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, in the GOP primary race on August 24, 2010. Murkowski had been appointed to the seat by her father, Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski, who had held the Senate seat for 30 years prior to becoming governor. Murkowski remained in the election as a write-in candidate, eventually beating Miller in the general election. In Delaware, Tea Party-backed candidate Christine O'Donnell defeated veteran Representative Mike Castle in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Her victory was a surprising upset and was seen as a sign of Tea Party movement strength, even though Castle was the Republican expected to easily win the seat, whilst O'Donnell was not. O'Donnell lost the election. In New York, Tea Party-backed candidate Carl Paladino defeated former Representative Rick Lazio in the Republican primary for governor; in the November election he was defeated by Democrat candidate Andrew Cuomo. In Florida, tea party favorite Marco Rubio defeated Independent and sitting governor Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate seat. In Colorado, tea party favorite Ken Buck won the GOP Senate primary, defeating Republican establishment candidate Lt. Governor Jane Norton, which caused controversy especially over Buck's stance on abortion. In the November general election, Buck was defeated by Senator Michael Bennet. Allegations of Democratic candidates planting "fake" Tea Party candidates have surfaced in Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. 2012 election Deb Fischer Deb Fischer Main article: List of Tea Party politicians In February 2011, the Tea Party Patriots organized and hosted the American Policy Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. The 1,600 attendees were polled regarding their preference for a 2012 presidential candidate. Herman Cain, the first of the 2012 candidates to form a presidential exploratory committee, won the poll with 22%. Runners up were Tim Pawlenty (16%), Ron Paul (15%) and Sarah Palin (10%). Ron Paul won the Summit's online poll. In September 2011, CNN and Tea Party Express co-hosted a Republican primary debate among presidential candidates which featured questions from various Tea Party groups. In March 2012, Incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt was defeated in the primary for Ohio's 2nd congressional district by tea-party backed Brad Wenstrup, an Iraq Veteran and podiatrist. Wenstrup went on to win the general election.  Also in March 2012, tea-party backed Incumbent Rep. Don Manzullo was defeated in the primary election for the new Illinois's 16th congressional district by first-term incumbent and former tea-party favourite Rep. Adam Kinzinger. In April 2012, Sen. Orrin Hatch, seeking renomination, received less than 60% of the vote of the Utah state Republican convention, forcing a primary election. Hatch easily defeated the Tea Party candidate Dan Liljenquist  In May 2012, tea party favorite Richard Mourdock defeated long-serving Sen. Richard Lugar in the Indiana Senate GOP primary with a 20% margin of victory. After making controversial comments about rape, Mourdock lost to Democratic challenger Rep. Joe Donnelly. With an endorsement from Sarah Palin and the help of the Tea Party, Nebraska's Deb Fischer pulled off an upset victory in that state's 2012 Senate race. Her opponents, Attorney General Jon Bruning, and state Treasurer Don Stenberg, each spent well in excess of $1 million, where as Fischer spent $100,000, augmented by twice that much in SuperPAC spending from Chicago Cubs part-owner Joe Ricketts. Fischer defeated Democratic challenger former Sen. Bob Kerrey in a landslide.  Tea party candidate for Senate Ted Cruz got enough of the primary vote in Texas to force a run-off vote against establishment GOP candidate David Dewhurst in May 2012. Cruz defeated Dewhurst in the runoff election with a 14% margin of victory. Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Paul Sadler, 57 percent to 41 percent.  The "grass-roots activists who identify to a large extent with the leaderless tea party movement" played a part in Scott Walker's election to Governor of Wisconsin in 2010 as well as his recall election victory in 2012. A FOX News exit poll showed Tea Party support was a key part of Walker's win in 2012, just as it was in 2010. In Atlanta, the Tea Party partnered with the NAACP and the Sierra Club to defeat the $7.2 billion dollar Transportation Investment Act in June 2012. The act had the support of both Democratic and Republican "establishment" politicians. The act was supported with $8 million used to sell the project to the public, while the Tea Party had only $15,000.00 to oppose it. With concerns that much of the act would do little to improve Atlanta's transportation problems, it was defeated with a 63% "no" vote. In Pennsylvania, Tea Party activists and FreedomWorks pushed for a law that would allow businesses to provide student tuition grants for school-choice in return for tax credits. The law was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett on June 30. In Missouri, tea party supporter Todd Akin won a three-way contest to become the GOP nominee to challenge incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill in the fall. One of Akin's main rivals was another tea party candidate, Sarah Steelman, whose backers included the Tea Party Express and Sarah Palin. Akin caused controversy with his legitimate rape remarks. Akin subsequently lost the election to McCaskill.  In August, presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice-presidential running mate. The move was praised by the Tea Party Express, the Tea Party Patriots, Sarah Palin, as well as many other Tea Party groups. Romney lost the general election to Barack Obama in a close popular vote, but an electoral landslide. In Wisconsin, establishment Republican and former governor Tommy Thompson won that state's GOP Senate primary, defeating Eric Hovde and former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, in August. Hovde, who finished second, had the backing of Freedomworks. Neumann, who finished third, had the backing of the Tea Party Express, the Club for Growth, and Sen. Jim DeMint In Florida, former veterinarian and Tea Party supporter Ted Yoho defeated 12-term GOP Rep. Cliff Stearns in the GOP primary in August Yoho easily defeated Democrat J.R. Gaillot, 64.8 percent to 32.4 percent in the general election.  Also in Florida, Tea Party favorite Allen West is trailing Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. West is demanding a recount. In Illinois, Tea Party Representative Joe Walsh lost to Democrat Lt. Colonel Tammy Duckworth, a 20-year veteran of the military who earned a Purple Heart, an Air Medal and an Army Commendation Medal after losing both of her legs in 2004, when her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq.  In Indiana, Tea Party politician Mike Pence was elected Governor and provided with Republican super majorities in both the state's House and Senate.  Current status Tea party activities have declined since 2010. According to Harvard professor Theda Skocpol, membership in Tea Party chapters across the country has slipped from about 1,000 to 600, but that this is still "a very good survival rate." Mostly, Tea Party organizations are said to have shifted away from national demonstrations to local issues. A shift in the operational approach used by the Tea Party has also affected the movement's visibility, with chapters placing more emphasis on the mechanics of policy and getting candidates elected rather than staging public events. The tea party's involvement in the 2012 GOP presidential primaries was minimal, owing to divisions over whom to endorse as well as lack of enthusiasm for all the candidates. Which is not to say the 2012 GOP ticket hasn't had an influence on the Tea Party: following the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate, the New York Times declared that the once fringe of the conservative coalition, Tea Party lawmakers are now "indisputably at the core of the modern Republican Party.