Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Origins of the Tea Parties
he founding moments of the contemporary Tea Party movement were many. Several were grassroots in nature, developing outside the existing power centers in Washington, D.C. and in the more remote regions where conservative politics meets a more libertarian (right-wing and anti-statist) opposition. Others derived directly from elements within the Republican Party apparatus and began as proxies for the party itself.
The Tea Parties also had points of origin within established right-wing organizations hoping to draw a line of distinction between themselves and the views of Sen. John McCain, who had just lost the presidential election, as well as the discredited conservatism of the Bush era. In so doing, they planned to create an opposition to President Obama and the Democrats.
One of the earliest moments leading up to the Tea Party movement occurred in December 2007, on the 234rd anniversary of the original Boston Tea Party. Ron Paul’s supporters held a “tea party moneybomb” to raise campaign funds for his campaign in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries. A Republican Congressman from Texas who ran for president in 1988 as the Libertarian Party’s candidate, Ron Paul has long had one foot in the Republican Party and one foot in its far-right opposition. His Campaign for Liberty (CFL) is now a significant stand-alone, membership-based non-profit institution headquartered in Virginia. It has played a noteworthy role in the growth of the Tea Party movement, even if few CFL members have enrolled in any of the national Tea Party groups. 
During the period after the election of President Barack Obama but before his inauguration, the Libertarian Party of Illinois began formulating a concept they called the Boston Tea Party Chicago and advertising it through the Libertarian Party of Illinois Yahoo and “meetup” groups, through Ron Paul Meetup and Campaign for Liberty groups, as well as national anti-tax groups. Dave Brady of the Libertarian Party of Illinois even claimed, “we gave Rick Santelli the idea for the Tax Day Tea Parties.”