A Very Brief History of the Tea Party Movement in PBC
The Boston Tea Party, in 1773, has long been held as a symbol of populist uprisings against unfair taxation, and has served as a model for all kinds of anti-tax protests throughout American history. In late 2008, during the ending days of the Bush adminisration, objections to TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) started to cause unrest amongst people increasingly concerned about government spending and bailouts of banks and automobile companies. Then, early in the Obama administration in 2009, the stimulus (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – ARRA) was too much for the ‘silent majority’ – those who had never protested anything in their lives…
What crystalized action, however, was the famous ‘rant’ by CNBC analyst Rick Santelli on February 19, 2009, which quickly went viral. He called for a Chicago Tea Party in July. Mass viewings of the Santelli video started spontaneous grass-roots tea party groups to form almost overnight throughout the country via websites, facebook and word of mouth. People started forming organizations, having demonstrations and organizing tea or tea-bag dumpings and mail-ins. July was too far away and most groups started to concentrate on April 15th, Tax Day, as the date of their focus. National and state loosely-knit grass-roots organizations formed – some with Tea Party in their names (like Tea Party Patriots or Tea Party Express) and others not (like The 912 Project or Freedomworks). But the beauty of the movement is that none of these actually speak for the ‘Tea Party’ as there is no formal entity or structure.
Palm Beach County citizens have been awakened through websites, meetups and social media – they have joined together in common areas of interest and positions on the issues, but all these diverse interests focus on constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility and free markets.
Rallies were held throughout South Florida to protest government spending and a healthcare bill an overwhelming majority of Americans did not want. Calls to action brought people to stand on corners and wave signs or meet with their Congressmen and Senators. Email, fax and phone campaigns continued the effort. Marches, such as the 9/12 March on DC in 2009 and 2010, as well as the August 28th 2010 Restoring Honor event drew people en masse from around the country – many from our area participated.
Organizations, and leadership thereof, have remained fluid since that first major event in 2009. Groups continually spin off from others and change focus, or become primarily single-issue or goal entities. Many members belong to several groups – some political, some not.
But what hasn’t changed is that this formerly silent majority is silent no more!