The Tea Party name is a reference to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, where colonists protested against taxation by the British government while having no representation in the Parliament. Tea Partyers support a Constitutionally-limited government, but are generally more defined by what they oppose. They are anti-stimulus, anti-deficit, anti-bailout, and anti-health reform. Some of the messages you will hear from Tea Partyers is that our current elected officials, especially certain compromised incumbents, do not listen to their constituents. Tea Partyers often complain that the media is not sufficiently exposing what incumbents are doing.
In Utah, the Tea Partyers have united with the 9/12 project to form an organization called Utah Rising. According to www.UtahRising.com, the Utah Tea Party movement started on March 6, 2009, and the Utah 9/12 movement began a week later. The 9/12 Project is a group created by Glenn Beck with the purpose of bringing “us all back to the place we were on Sept. 12, 2001 ... we were not obsessed with red states, blue states or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the values and principles of the greatest nation ever created.” The term “9/12” also represents nine principles and 12 values shared by the Founding Fathers.
Utah Rising proclaims its goal is to wake America up to the assault on the Constitution by the federal government. Liberal pundits would have you believe that these organizations incite hatred and divisiveness, are advocating for theocracy, and attempt to exploit the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for political gain.
By the end of the year, polls showed the Tea Party movement had higher approval ratings than either of the major political parties. The Utah Rising website links to “like-minded groups”, such as the Patrick Henry Caucus, iCaucus, Campaign for Liberty, and the Eagle Forum.
I have mixed feelings about the Tea Party movement. Although I am excited to see a lot of people get involved for the first time in the political process, I worry about some of the fringe elements.
I am disappointed that they have allowed themselves to be primarily defined by what they oppose: Obama and the federal government.
Out of curiosity, I recently attended a Tea Party meeting in Kaysville. I was astonished at the size of the crowd of 300 or more people.
Even though I have been very active in local politics for over a decade, I recognized less than 10 percent of the attendees. I was impressed by some of the leaders who spoke, but witnessed some angry, anti-incumbent rhetoric. I am encouraged, however, that they attended caucuses and sought to be elected as delegates. I hope that they will stay involved in the Republican Party, rather than splintering into a third party.