It has been five years since the grassroots Tea Party held its first rallies, and, undeterred by predictions to the contrary, it shows no signs of dissipating any time soon. Despite efforts to define and package it, the loosely organized but fiercely patriotic Tea Party movement continues to defy efforts to put it all in a neatly defined little box. Its impact ripples as a tenacious undercurrent that has changed the way this generation does politics.
Politichick Dr. Gina Loudon, credited with being one of the first 100 founding members of the Tea Party and host of Smart Life with Dr. Gina, recently told Neil Cavuto of Fox News that the Tea Party is effective in what it is doing. They ARE making a difference.
Jennifer Stefano of Americans for Prosperity credits women as being a driving force behind the effectiveness of the Tea Party: “A lot of women, a lot of mothers, came forward to really fight for the freedom that they believed in, for what they wanted for their children.”
But it’s not just women. As much as some in the media want to categorize the Tea Party as a bunch of angry, rich, racist, white men, nothing could be further from the truth, according to Loudon. “We are mainstream America.”
The rallies began in 2009, shortly after the inauguration of President Barack Obama. There had been rumblings of discontent throughout the United States during the Bush and Clinton administrations. The economy had turned south just before the election, and the policies that were being introduced were heavy on taxes and bailouts, but short on solutions (solutions that are ever more elusive). And Americans were fed up.
When the first Tea Party rallies were held, people came from all walks of life – moms and dads, veterans, senior citizens, rednecks, college students, from every race, religion, and party, united by the concept that government was getting too big for its britches, and that Americans were “Taxed Enough Already.” Patriotic songs were sung. Hot dogs were served. Speakers inspired audiences to fight for liberty and the Constitution, and to take America back.
A grassroots group of patriots from Trussville, Alabama, put together one of those first Tea Party rallies, as well as a video that showcased times in history that the will of the American people was underestimated. The video vividly portrayed the concept that “Americans will Always fight for Liberty.”
The establishment was very uneasy, because this group, these people, could not be corralled and told what to do or how to act. It wasn’t unions or clubs who came together. It was individuals. Nobody made them come. They heard announcements on the radio or saw signs painted by volunteers. Any attempt to define or control them was about like trying to herd cats.
The heart of the mission then is the same as it is now – less intrusive government, lower taxes, less debt, and restoration of liberty and Constitutional values. That has not changed. Nor has the fact changed that the Tea Party is still made up of all kinds of people.
The Tea Party provided an outlet for patriotic individuals to join together to make a difference. Dr. Gina Loudon explains that people were mad and frustrated with government but didn’t know what to do about it. “Instead of throwing the tennis shoe at the television, we’re telling people – ‘Get on your tennis shoes, come with us, and let’s win those races.” She said that people didn’t know what to do or how to fight, but now they do.
Many candidates have won elections because of the backing of the Tea Party, because of the work of the individuals who make up the Tea Party. The candidates supported by most Tea Party groups are not typically the “establishment” candidates. That is one of the issues that has led to a divide between the old-school entrenched establishment and the new breed of candidates and supporters. Party and politician loyalty has given way to loyalty to principle and the Constitution. When elected leaders fail to deliver on principle, the Tea Party works to replace them with someone else, in hopes that the replacement will have the backbone to truly lead.
The Tea Party Express is a group that has traveled across the country, backing candidates and stirring up audiences with powerful speeches and inspirational patriotic music. They are on their ninth national bus tour since inception in 2009, making 19 stops in 15 days, on the “Fighting for Liberty” Tour. They recently stopped in Mississippi to endorse Chris McDaniel for the US Senate against an entrenched career politician.
Dr. Gina Loudon is a passionately vocal part of the Liberty tour, doing what she does every day of her life – speaking truth and fighting for liberty. She concluded the Jackson, Mississippi, rally with these powerful words: “We are only free because we’re brave. Stay brave!”
[Images via Facebook]