Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

October 21, 2010 4:11 PM

The Tea Party

What is the Tea Party? Is it a movement? Is it a short-term political phenomena of the 2010 election? Is it the early rumblings of what will become a viable 3rd party? Is it the beginning of the reformation of the Republican Party?

The answers to all of those questions lie down the road. What is clear is that, whatever the Tea Party is or may turn out to be, it is having a substantial impact on the 2010 mid-term election.

In the beginning

The beginning is a bit amorphous.

Congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign used the “tea party” protest as a fundraising device.

In early 2009, commencing about the time that Barack Obama was inaugurated, a part-time trader and member of Ticker Forum (a site for financial market commentary) posted a suggestion on the Forum that folks “Mail a tea bag to Congress and to Senate.” On the same date, the moderator of the Forum invited readers “to a commemorative tea party,” with the idea of everyone sending tea bags on February 1st.

On February 11, a talk radio host and Fox Business Network personality appeared on “Fox and Friends,” waving tea bags and saying “It’s time for a Tea Party.”

There are many claims of who organized the first Tea Party, and at the same time there was another organizing activity called Porkulus Protests. This came from Rush Limbaugh, who coined the term on a broadcast about the Stimulus bill and pork barrel spending.

Often described as the “first” national Tea Party protest was the one called for by CNBC editor Rick Santelli, who, on a broadcast, suggested putting together a Chicago Tea Party. This is claimed by many to be the triggering event of the real growth of the Tea Party because the next day the new “Tea Party” was being discussed on Fox News.

A Facebook page popped up on February 20th. The first Tea Party convention occurred in February in Nashville. On tax day, April 15, 2009, there were hundreds of tea parties across the country. (History courtesy of Wikipedia)

Since then The Tea Party has taken on a life of its own, and without all the trappings of traditional political organizations ... it is having a impact.

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