“”The Democrats are a donkey, Republicans are an elephant, and the Tea Party is a bug up the elephant's ass.
|—Stephen Colbert on the fiscal cliff|
The Tea Party movement (affectionately known as the "Teabagging Movement") is a "slightly" insane, loosely organized, and even more loosely platformed, group of mostly middle-aged, white tax protesters, inspired by a complete misinterpretation of the Boston Tea Party, and managed, reported on, and supported by Fox News and its various loony anchors (ironically, the Tea Party was actually started on CNBC, and not Fox News, by Rick Santelli). It was seen as a unique, corporate-maintained phenomenon spawned in February 2009, for the purposes of protesting on April 15th, 2009, the day income tax forms were due in the United States. On this day,
millions hundreds of people gathered at various locations around the country to throw teabags into some handy body of water to protest taxes government debt Obama Hitler health care reform big government tea taxes, presumably with representation.
Since that time, teabaggers (which they came up with before they realized what else it meant) have protested many other issues, such as the attempt to provide many of them with affordable health care.
There were apparently follow-up protests on the 4th of July, 2009; however, they received little media coverage, and only one place cared. They did, however, hold a larger protest in Washington, D.C. on September 12, 2009 with attendance of about 70,000, comparable to other major D.C. protests.
The group had mixed success in the 2010 midterm elections; they were credited with causing wide Republican gains, but also caused the Republicans a few losses. For example, Sharron Angle, who, with Tea Party support, knocked out a more viable candidate in the Nevada Republican primary but then lost the election to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whereas the more viable Republican candidate may have defeated the Tea Party's Public Enemy Number 1. Christine O'Donnell is another case of this.
The Tea Party is fundamentally a Republican movement who think they're Libertarians. 76% identify or lean towards the Republican party, although much of the establishment Republicans find them annoying.
“”The Republican Party are very very right wing, and the Tea Party are mad.
|—Ian Hislop, Have I Got News For You, 28th October 2010|
The origins of these teabaggings depends on who you ask. Right wingers insist that this movement is a totally organic, grassroots effort that sprang up overnight.
Liberals Everyone else realizes this is a media stunt astroturfed by the likes of Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Koch Industries, Inc., CNBC, and Fox News. These demonstrations took place everywhere from Kentucky to California, but were thwarted in Washington, D.C. because they didn’t have a permit to dump a million tea bags into the sea (way to organize, guys!).
The first use of the Tea Party iconography started in 2007 during Ron Paul's presidential campaign. However, the Tea Parties were limited to Paul die-hards and never gained mainstream traction until Santelli dredged the idea back up on CNBC in 2009. It didn't take long for the astroturf machine to move in after that.
More than $850,000 of the money the supposedly grassroots political action committee collected went to the firm of GOP political operatives who ran it.
More simply put, the "organization" consists of some printed paper yanking on a short string, to which is attached a tissue paper bag full of jumbled shredded leaves, which are steeped by soaking them in boiling water.
By the end of 2009, various groups had formed claiming to be the leaders of the tea-party movement, including the Tea Party Patriots and the Tea Party Nation. On February 4-6 , 2010 the Tea Party Nation hosted the first ever national convention in Nashville, Tennessee with guest speaker Sarah Palin. The convention was attacked by teabaggers for being distant from the supposedly grassroots movement, with tickets costing $549.
The largest tea party organizations by size are:
- Tea Party Patriots
- Tea Party Nation
- FreedomWorks Tea Party
- 1776 Tea Party
 Ensuring Liberty Corporation
At the First Teabagging Convention, Mark Scoda, a Memphis businessman, announced the creation of Ensuring Liberty Corporation, a Memphis based company with a political action group that would fund "Tea Party candidates" - that is, politicians supportive of the tea party movement which he described as: "Less government, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, states rights, and national security." It will be accepting corporate donations.
 Astroturf organisation
Despite claims that it is a "grassroots" organisation, the Tea Party has merely become another patsy for the US's health care insurance companies to fight healthcare reform. The "Tea Party Caucus" received donations of $2.7 million from the health care sector, which also contributed towards a $25 million "war chest" to be used by the Tea Party to fight the elections.
The two main 'Bagger astroturf groups are FreedomWorks headed by Dick Armey and Americans for Prosperity. Both were spun off from the Koch-bankrolled Citizens for a Sound Economy. The Kochs denied any connection to the Tea Parties. A few months after that statement, a video leaked of Teabag state chapter leaders reporting directly to David Koch himself at the Americans for Prosperity mothership. (But they're grassroots, honest!)
Sadly, most Tea Party members are too full of righteous indignation and are too stupid to realise they are merely pawns in a gambit by their corporate backers to ensure they retain their profits... at the cost of the very people who are cheering them on.
“”They don't read the Fortune 500 and put together an analysis of what's really going on in the world, all they've had rammed into their heads is , 'The federal government's your enemy.' You tell them to go read declassified National Security Council documents, or to look at things in the business press that would really mean something to them – I mean, a lot of people don't even read. We should bear in mind how illiterate the society's become.
|—Noam Chomsky on the seeds of the Tea Party movement (in 1994)|
The problems with these teabagging protests are many, but boil down to rich right-wingers taking advantage of uninformed working stiffs. Generally, these protests suffer at least one of these flaws:
- The Obama administration had issued no new taxes at all, before the date of the protest. Any complaint about the tax policy at the time should be directed at the Bush administration, whose taxes were still in effect. Even after the Obama administration changed the tax laws for the following year, 95% of people will get a tax cut, not an increase. No reports exist saying whether the protests consisted entirely of the 5% who would pay (slightly) more taxes. Furthermore, though the Teabaggers frequently protest the 2009 stimulus package, tax cuts encompassed 37% of the stimulus.
- The original Tea Party was to protest taxation without representation. The US currently has taxation with representation, unless Obama plans to suspend free elections (spoiler alert: he doesn’t). Thus, using tea is an inappropriate, idiotic idea that accomplishes nothing except pointing out which people are not clever enough to research what they are protesting about. Oh, and giving some fish a brief caffeine and tannin high. And creating a temporary windfall in sales of tea bags.
- Also, and more amusingly, the original Tea party was a protest over the tea tariff being cut — but only for the British East India Company, giving them a virtual monopoly due to lower pricing over the wealthy merchants who were being undercut (and who were the "protesters").
- Promoted as a "giant" protest, with "over 500" local events, it is utterly dwarfed by the "protest heard 'round the world" against the start of the Iraq War, which earned George W. Bush the ignominious title of having the largest number of people ever in history to protest against him.
- Many who consider themselves to be part of the Tea Party worship the Republican Party and/or people like Glenn Beck. Others (wanting to appear "independent") claim to not agree with such organizations or people, yet espouse much of the same crackpot rhetoric. They think that listening to paranoid blowhard Alex Jones and reading infowars makes them savvy.
The teabagging movement represents a great achievement of the corporate propaganda system. Using people's anger towards the system and their deep-rooted racism to get them to actively root against their own self-interest is simply a milestone. Also getting this self-inflicted gunshot wound repeatedly broadcast at their news outlets takes a lot of... well... balls.
Despite the above the tea party movement is highly diverse. The Stormfront has talked of infiltrating the Tea Party and some Tea Party acftivists are sympathetic to Stormfront propaganda, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens has connections to the Tea Party as do similar groups. Birthers represent 35% of committed Tea Party supporters and the same proportion of conservative Republicans agree. Some Tea Party activists are Anti-Semitic but others are prejudiced against dark skinned people while supporting Israel. Racism is by no means universal in the Tea Party, some groups have expelled racist members. The NAACP called on the Tea Party to repudiate the racists within the movement but there are complaints that not enough has been done.   Still by no means all supporters are racist, there is even at least one token African American representative. 
 9/12 protests
The protests on the September 12, 2009, were the culmination of a six-month campaign by Fox News host Glenn Beck. The 9/12 Project gets its name from the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington DC, on September 11, 2001. Apparently Beck decided that the way to commemorate the 8th anniversary of this event was to hold a large anti-government rally in one of the cities where it occurred, something he had failed to do on the previous seven anniversaries whilst George W Bush was president. His rationale was that the protest was going to take Americans back to how they felt the day after the terrorist attacks - united behind a Republican president. He then devised 9 principles and 12 values he wanted everyone to adhere to. When the protest finally occurred it was given all-day coverage on Fox News, with Glenn Beck hosting a special show from the protest. Despite some claims of a seven-figure turnout, the heavily astroturfed tea party protest attracted 70,000 to 100,000 people.
The aftermath of the protest became a comedy of its own. Fox News began running full-page ads in newspapers that read "How did, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and CNN miss this story?" The other news organisations all pointed out that they had given coverage to the protest during their news bulletins. Fox countered by saying they were missing the story behind the protest; however the story behind the protest is that Fox News astroturfed the protest - including having news producers directing and rallying the crowd.
Never one to be outdone, Rush Limbaugh suggested protesting the media itself for not covering this "growing movement". This began WorldNetDaily's attempted astroturf campaign to protest "Obama's Minion Media", with the help of the supposedly grassroots, supposed organisation Operation: can you hear us now? - whose website seems not to exist. The extremely lackluster event gathered less than a few thousand people in more than 100 locations, making for underwhelming protests that were justifiably ignored by the media. As with the July 4th protests, unless the tea parties have extensive coverage from major media outlets, such as Fox News, beforehand, they tend to attract very small crowds.
In October 2009, Republicans in the House of Representatives wanted to pass a resolution to commemorate the "hundreds of thousands of American patriots" who "came to Washington, DC, to show their disapproval." Remember, these protests are not organised by the Republicans, they are entirely organic, and the protesters oppose government waste—which should presumably include passing unnecessary resolutions.
 Conspiracy Theorists
The Tea Party has attracted many conspiracy theorists to its cause. Anyone who spends time on an active Tea Party forum will see a number of conspiracy-related threads pop up. More common conspiracies include:
- The belief that Obama is deliberately trying to destroy America, or trying to create a socialist/communist totalitarian government.
- The belief that Obama's presidency is part of a plot to institute the New World Order - often referring to George Soros or the UN.
- And, of course, Birtherism
An eagle-eyed viewer may also find:
 Insert teabagging jokes here
- Protestors were "full throated" and wanted to give Obama "tongue lashings". Oh yeah, that's dirty baby.
- A Fox News fan wrote in saying he would hang tea bags from his rear-view mirror and antennae (to "support the cause") because he couldn't make it to the actual protests and Gretchen Carlson piped in saying, "You could hang it from your mirror too like fuzzy dice."
- "It's hard to talk when you're teabagging"
- "(I)f you are planning simultaneous tea bagging all around the country, you're going to need a Dick Armey."
- "Teabaggers suck balls."
 Not a joke
"But they are nothing new, nothing new at all. They are mostly a bunch of cranky white men with money who are trying desperately to hang on to their privileges. Same as it ever was. They are what we have called 'Republicans' for at least the last 30 years."
There were 1.7 million 'baggers at a protest in Washington D.C. in the autumn of 2009 according to Glenn Beck. Not 60-75 thousand as estimated by the DC Park Policiffers.
 Conflict with Libertarians
Though the movement claims to be libertarian, many libertarians have come out against the movement and its prominent figures. A Libertarian Party poll has also shown that Libertarians see the Teabaggers as too "Republican-flavored." Some of their possible "problems" with the Tea Party could be:
- The Teabaggers' reactionary social policies and support for immigration law.
- The Teabaggers' "national security" policies - which are "un-libertarian".
- Glenn Beck's previous entanglement with a Libertarian candidate.
- The Teabaggers turn a blind eye to legislation that curtails the rights of others.
- The Teabaggers cheer every time food stamps and other social support programs are cut but have nary a word to say about other, possibly more significant kinds of government spending like agricultural/oil subsidies, unchecked military expenditure and the idiotic, unwinnable War on Drugs
- The Teabaggers think even the most reasonable kinds of regulation/taxation are a violation of our civil liberties but think its ok for the government to dictate what we can put in our bodies, what parts of their bodies others can stick in our bodies and what women can take out of their bodies
 It's about taxes and spending, really!
Libertarians (as well as most everyone else) don't buy this line. A number of polls have shown considerable overlap between the Tea Party and the religious right (though you didn't really need polls to tell you that considering some of their favorite candidates).
- A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that almost half of Teabaggers openly identify as part of the "religious right", a majority favored declaring abortion illegal, and less than one in five in favor of legalizing gay marriage.
- A Pew poll found similar results, in addition to finding a majority in favor of securing the border and Second Amendment rights.
- A University of Washington poll found that a majority of Teabaggers thought gays and lesbians had "too much political power" and that immigration was "changing the country for the worse."
- According to a CBS poll, Teabaggers are more likely to be birthers.
 Not-so-useful idiots
In the aftermath of several elections lost by tea party backed Republican candidates in conservative districts and states, and especially after the government shutdown of 2013, which was widely blamed on tea party politicians like Ted Cruz, a Republican Senator from Texas, many commentators speculated that the establishment wing of the Republican party was beginning to realize that the tea party was hurting them at least as much as it was helping them.
Tea partiers denied these accusations and insisted that they will remain a force to be reckoned with.
Tea party groups continue to threaten to "primary" (i.e., support primary challengers against) incumbent Republican candidates running for re-election whom they perceive as being too moderate. This actually succeeded in the 2010 midterm elections (when they also kicked out most of the Blue Dog Democrats), as well as the early 2014 primaries when they ousted Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
 Coffee Party
The Coffee Party is a liberal answer to the Tea Party movement. They are a movement whose goal is to get cooperation in government and to remove corporate influence from politics. As with the Tea Party they claim a grassroots origin.
A "national day of meetings" was held on 13 March 2010 at 350 coffee shops across the US & abroad. Though mostly in the greater San Francisco area. Presumably.
 Famous baggers
- Michele Bachmann
- Ted Cruz
- E. W. Jackson
- Sarah Palin
- Mark Sanford
- Allen West
- Special mention to Rand Paul, who is trying to bridge the gap between the baggers and the libertarians. We'll see how that goes.
 See also
- Tea Party Nation
- Tea Party Patriots
- The Tea Party Express
- Wikipedia's list of Tea Party protests, 2009
- Wikipedia's list of Tea Party protests, 2010
- A blog about the Tea Party attitude to science
- Hi, I'm a Tea-Partier
- A history lesson from the Tea Party ("This Modern World" comic strip by Tom Tomorrow)
- The Truth About the Tea Party, Matt Taibbi's definitive takedown of the 'Baggers.
- Matt A. Barreto et al. The Tea Party in the Age of Obama: Mainstream Conservatism or Out-Group Anxiety? Political Power and Social Theory, Volume 22, 2011.
- Lawrence Rosenthal The Tea Party, the government shutdown, and Obamacare The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society, 15 October 2013
- ↑ Not a Game, the board game.
- ↑ "CNBC's Santelli Rants About Housing Bailout" ABC News. 19 February 2009
- ↑ Even though taxes hadn't even been raised at that point and for most people they had been cut. However to be fair, these idiots don't feel they are "represented", since most of the people they voted for in November 2008 lost. Most of the world celebrated the United States' imminent entry into the 20th century.
- ↑ teapartyday.com, a TEA protest website
- ↑ Really, this might not be such a bad thing. This crowd can hardly walk without a rascal scooter, their chances of waging a successful insurgency are zero. Despite what they might think, they'd be gunned down by Big Brother's Socialist Blackshirt Gestapo within a few days.
- ↑ Some guy whining about media coverage.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Size Matters; So do lies - fivethirtyeight.com
- ↑ Mayer, Jane. Covert Operations. The New Yorker: August 30, 2010.
- ↑ http://who.godaddy.com/WhoIsVerify.aspx?domain=chicagoteaparty.com&prog_id=godaddy
- ↑ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30227452/
- ↑ "Fox spent weeks promoting apparent tea party scam", Media Matters
- ↑ Tea Party Patriots' website
- ↑ Tea Party Nation's website
- ↑ National Tea Party Convention website
- ↑ Tea Party Disputes Take Toll on Convention - New York Times January 25, 2010
- ↑ The Death of the Tea Parties? Not So Fast... - Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.
- ↑ Website. A particularly lulz worthy group due to the fact the Boston Tea Party occurred in 1773.
- ↑ Tea Party Leader Launches Political Outfit - Wall Street Journal Blogs. February 5, 2010.
- ↑ Health Insurers Donate Millions to Tea Party Caucus, and to Republicans Who Pledge to Reverse Health Reform
- ↑ Health industry bolts Dems for GOP
- ↑ Major Health Insurance Company Urges Employees To Attend Tea Parties
- ↑ Letter sent to staff by United Health Group
- ↑ Video of Koch Tea Party link
- ↑ Understanding Power (2002)
- ↑ Is The Tea Party Racist? Ask Some Actual, Out-Of-The-Closet Racists
- ↑ NAACP backs report that ties racist groups to tea party
- ↑ Tax Day Tea Party Protest in Tulsa
- ↑ 9/12 Project mission statement
- ↑ Our Principles & Values
- ↑ A million or more rock Washington - WorldNetDaily. September 12, 2009.
- ↑ Fox News Newspaper Ad Makes False Claims About Tea Party Coverage - Huffington Post. September 18, 2009.
- ↑ Fox News Producer Caught Rallying 9/12 Protest Crowd In Behind-The-Scenes Video - Huffington Post. September 19, 2009.
- ↑ Patriots' newest target: Obama 'Minion Media' - WorldNetDaily. September 16, 2009.
- ↑ Obama's 'Minion Media' to face fed-up Americans - WorldNetDaily. September 28, 2009.
- ↑ Protesters target media: 'Can you hear us now?' - WorldNetDaily. October 17, 2009.
- ↑ House Republicans Commemorate 9/12 March With House Resolution - Huffington Post. October 27, 2009.
- ↑ Biased as all hell from MSNBC, but the introductory commentary says it all
- ↑ Huffington post vidcap of Fox News
- ↑ Anderson Cooper adds one more stupid joke.
- ↑ Shuster, quoted at the Huffington Post
- ↑ Hullabaloo: Teabag Nation.
- ↑ Glenn Beck: measured by the University of I Don't Remember.
- ↑ How to undermine a movement - NolanChart.com. Feb 7, 2010
- ↑ "New Data: Tea Party is Authoritarian, Not Libertarian" Discover Magazine
- ↑ Glen Beck and Ron Paul - Fool me Once - NolanChart.com. April 12, 2009
- ↑ Which choice best represents your position on Libertarians and the Tea Parties? - LP.org. April 12, 2010
- ↑ "Arizona Tea Party Activists Say They're Back" NPR, 12 July 2012
- ↑ "Tea Partier On Lead Up To Iraq War: 'We Have To Trust Our Leaders' (VIDEO)" Tom Kludt, Talking Points Memo. 19 March 2013
- ↑ Glenn to Ron Paul supporters: Ron Paul is NOT RUNNING!, Glenn Beck's Official Website
- ↑ "Glenn Beck apologizes to libertarians, begs them to welcome new people into the movement"
- ↑ The Cause of Freedom
- ↑ "House Republicans Pass Deep Cuts in Food Stamps" Ron Nixon, The New York Times. 19 September 2013
- ↑ "The Tea Party and the Drug War" Jeffery A. Miron, National Review Online. 7 June 2010
- ↑ [http://www.teaparty-platform.com/ "Ten Core Beliefs of the Modern-Day Tea Party Movement", Section 1
- ↑ "The Relationship between Libertarians, the Tea Party and the Christian Right", Public Religion Research Institute
- ↑ PRRI poll via NPR
- ↑ Pew Poll
- ↑ U of W poll via HuffPo
- ↑ CBS poll
- ↑ http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/18/opinion/zelizer-tea-party/
- ↑ http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/10/02/228524707/gop-establishment-grapples-with-a-tea-party-that-wont-budge
- ↑ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/22/1249651/-The-Tea-Party-and-the-GOP-From-Rescue-to-Wreck
- ↑ http://www.bizpacreview.com/2013/10/25/meghan-mccain-says-tea-party-has-dad-depressed-and-frustrated-85908
- ↑ The Primaries Project: Will Cantor’s Loss Be a Turning Point for the Tea Party? Brookings Institution
- ↑ http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/norquist-tea-party-infinitely-important/2013/10/31/id/534133
- ↑ http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/25/tea-party-leaders-threaten-primary-challenges-to-republicans-supporting-immigration-bill/
- ↑ http://www.frumforum.com/tea-party-threatens-more-primary-fights/
- ↑ The Coffee Party USA website