My first experience with the TEA Party movement came at a rally two years ago on Sarasota's bayfront park. It was on April 15th 2008. I walked the crowd assembled there and asked individuals if they had ever attended a political rally before. The answer was overwhelmingly no. I did get one man to admit he attended a Barry Goldwater rally once. Since that time the crowds have gotten bigger, those attending are more diverse and most importantly families with small children are frequently partaking in the rallies.
So what really binds these people from diverse backgrounds together?
"[T]he tea party movement is inspired above all by a commitment to limited government. And that does distinguish it from the competition."
I believe we are witnessing a paradigm shift in politics. Tea Party members of all stripes believe in one basic premise - power lies in the hands of the people and not government. Politicians of both major political parties have drifted toward the ideas that central planning, more government control of markets and a need for expanding the power of government is somehow a better solution than any alternative. Who controls the reigns of power is at the center of the debate.
When you attend Tea Party events you see copies of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. They are poured over, often quoted and always revered.
American history is taught in these Tea Party forums. These are not political meetings, they are sessions on understanding what America is and who founded it. It is like a reawakening of the original revolutionary spirit that broke the ties that bound us to a tyrannical King George II and British Parliament in 1776. It is a rare but growing understanding of our roots as a nation and a people. It is a tsunami of grass roots activism not seen in America for decades. I say tsunami because 2010 is the first wave of the movement. A second and perhaps bigger wave, like in a tsunami, may occur in 2012.
This is all about power to the people. An often used but seldom adhered to phrase thrown out by politicians of both parties. Yes this is a shift, a sea change if you will. But it is not to the right it is toward the original republican form of government that made America exceptional. It is why our forefathers left Europe and created this "new world" - the United States of America.
So if you believe you should have the power to decide how you live your life then you are a member of the Tea Party. But remember as Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman said, "with great power comes great responsibility." It is not enough to demand power unless you are ready to accept personal responsibility for yourself and your actions. You are the answer, not government. History tells us so.