The country’s Tea Party movement proved to stalwarts in Washington D.C. they had the will of the people and the capability to send a strong message to all lawmakers. The grassroots organization engineered historic midterm election results while daring their dissenters to heed ordinary citizens or face the consequences.
The 2010 midterm election cycle focused on cleaning house of Republicans who acted like Democrats – check. Step two of Nancy Pelosi’s so-called Astro-turf movement was to dethrone the Speaker herself- checkmate. The Tea Party kept its word and focus – Democrats and Republicans beware.
More than 200 Tea Party leaders met in Washington D.C. this weekend to share their “action plan” with the nation’s newest freshman and are optimistic the new members will vote in line with the Tea Party wave that got them elected.
The weekend meeting was the largest collaboration of Tea Party representatives, many of whom are new to politics. The Tea Party gained steam after Chicago’s Mercantile Exchange Rick Santelli’s now famous call for a tea party during the country’s biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression.
Fox’s Glen Beck also played a big role in encouraging Americans to step up and fight back after his 9-12 rally bent on recapturing the compassion all citizens felt for one another after the devastating attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.
Now it’s “love her, hate her” Sarah Palin who empowered to the Tea Party challenge and became the GOP’s biggest fundraiser as well as a mythical figurehead for the grassroots movement.
That being said Tea Party leaders contend there is no one leader and it’s up to individual chapters scattered across America to influence local, state and national lawmakers to listen to the people.
Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest and original grassroots group, has been working with more than 3,000 local tea party coordinators to meet with incoming Congressional members for a “Tea Party orientation meeting.”
In addition to the “Freshmen Orientation,” tea party leaders spent the day sharing ideas, brainstorming new agendas and voting on items that will be included in their “action plan.”
The “of the people, by the people movement” all voted to decide what will be in the final document that would be given to lawmakers.
“We heard from excellent speakers and found ourselves in the company of some of the cleverest people in the movement. It was a pleasure to spend the weekend with such a high caliber of tea party activists. The tea party movement is in very good hands,” said Andrew Ian Dodge, Tea Party Patriots Maine Coordinator.
Members from a wide range of states all agreed the movement is strong and continues to grow even though many on the left think the movement will fizzle out once the economy turns around.
“The information we’ve received here has been absolutely stunning, this gathering has surpassed my best expectations. It really shows that we are a permanent force to be reckoned with,” explained Shelby Blakely, Director/Host – TPP Radio, National Leadership Council/WA State Coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.
While the Tea Party may be riding the wave of America’s discontent it remains foggy as to the long-term sustainability the movement yearns. However, if establishment political leaders think the grassroots movement is a passing fancy, Tea Party leaders from groups large and small seem willing to prove insiders wrong.
“It’s a wonderful experience. We were able to let the new Congress know what we want them to do to restore America,” said John Stahl of the Berks Tea Party.org in PA. “We have our work cut out for us. But they (Washington D.C.) now know who we are and what we can do.”
Florida’s Tea Party group has also been a big influence in the midterm election cycle and leaders were ready and willing to be a part of this weekend’s historic Tea Party get together.
“I am excited about the ideas that came out of the meeting,” says Everett Wilkinson, Florida state coordinator and chairman of the South Florida Tea Party. “We met with several freshmen and let them know that we will be there for them.”
Perhaps the most successful Tea Party-endorsed candidate is Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio. First, the popular GOP candidate took out popular Republican Governor Charlie Crist in the primary and went on to handily beat the Democratic candidate as well as Crist who turned his back to the GOP and ran as an Independent.
Rubio is a well-liked, well-spoken Cuban immigrant already being eyed by some as a future presidential contender.
While time will tell if the Tea Party has the staying power of the two main political arms in Washington D.C., the feeling now rings with excitement that “we the people” were part of the process.
“I also feel very confident that the Tea Party is going to be here four years and 40 years from now,” Wilkinson concluded.