To look at who the foot soldiers are in the nation's newest political army and what motivates them, USA TODAY combined results from national polls in May and June and did additional interviews.How refreshing!
The Tea Party movement has been hard to describe in any definitive terms. People who support it generally understand what they're supporting, but it might mean something a little different to different people.
"I don't really understand it, but I like what they stand for," says Terry Rushing, 63, of Greensburg, La., who was among those surveyed. "They just support everything I'm looking for — lower taxes, less government. ... All the good things, you know."Perceptively, the author of a mainstream magazine discovered the issues that the Tea Party People are uniting around.
What unites Tea Party supporters is less their geography or demography than their policy views: a firm conviction that the federal government has gotten too big and too powerful and a fear that the nation faces great peril.I was happy to read the the authors were able to glean the fact that hearkening back to the philosophies of our Founding Fathers that shaped the Constitution of this great nation are an important piece of who the Tea Party people are.
Their faith in the Founding Fathers is a signature of the movement. Citing links to the Revolution has been a mainstay of American politics since the nation's beginnings, Lepore says, but the way the Tea Party uses those symbols and language is original. "It is a fundamentalist way of thinking of the past: The founding documents are gospel; they come alive for us," she says.Another factor uniting them is the rejection of the political structure and parties that exist now.
"The Tea Party is trying to change the country around because the Republicans and Democrats — I don't think anyone knows what they're doing in Washington anymore," says Ed Bradley, 54, a retired police officer and judge from Lebanon, Ind. "The Tea Party is trying to change this country to what it used to be."At the same time, the Tea Party is not trying to be a political party, but rather a political movement.
On the last big Election Day, in 2008, the Tea Party didn't exist. Now the name encompasses the most energized segment of the electorate, one that has denied members of Congress renomination, created a new constellation of political heroes and pushed the GOP to the right.In sum, the Tea Party is a growing group of Americans who realize the American Dream is slipping away. They are a people who love their country and value the freedom it has promoted for exactly 234 years. They are trying to protect that very freedom before the USA no longer resembles the free republic created to be for the people and by the people. The final quote that the article sited was,
Even so, the movement is less a party than an anti-party, with no clear consensus about whom its national leaders are and a generally dyspeptic view of organized political power.
"The government is taking over everything — the banks, the automobiles," she says. "I want my freedom back."That sums up the frustration pretty well.