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Yellowdog's avatar

Does anyone else remember a time before the "Tea Party" was exclusively conservative?

Asked by Yellowdog (11164points) February 13th, 2017

Most people don’t believe me—but in September, 2009 I attended the first Tea Party event in Memphis.

They were all brands—but most were small business owners, especially of the Specialty Shop “artsy” types who had supported Obama vehemently during the campaign—then felt betrayed by him—like they had played by the rules and then were punished for it. What most of them had in common were they were small business owners who didn’t like Obama—again, many who had supported Obama. Of course, there were many conservatives, too—but the most ubiquitous, common trait was, they didn’t like Obama.

Within a year, however, the movement was almost exclusively far-right.

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7 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

You mean, before they sold out to the republicans and got into the whole religion thing?

In the early stages, when the TP was just starting, they concerned themselves with economics. They made a couple of good points.

Where they lost any credibility is when the allied with the christian conservatives and started spouting the anti-abortion, anti-science bullshit. They moved away from their economics agenda (which, as I said, was not all that bad) and bought into the party line.

It’s the alliance with the right wing, and all the baggage that is included, that screwed the pooch.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The tea party never had any real leadership structure so it was instantly taken over by the most unsavory elements. I do remember though, at the start it was a center leaning and reasonable movement. That lasted a couple of months

JLeslie's avatar

When the Tea Party first started I was very interested in the movement, because I hate the huge national debt. I hated having one under Reagan and Bush, and I always associated Pres. Clinton with balancing the budget. At the time the Republicans were way more vocal about government spending, but I knew a lot of republicans who bitched, but really showed no willingness to sacrifice to balance the budget. I knew democrats who also wanted responsible spending, but they also were ok with paying taxes to reduce the deficit.

Anyway, I, as a Democrat, was at first interested in the tea party movement, but it quickly became full of people who were right wing in social issues like gay marriage and abortion, and that ruined everything. The founders of the tea party movement were not vocal on those social issues.

It’s like the Koch Brothers, they’re big time Republican manipulators, but they actually are reasonably liberal in a lot of social issues. It’s just that the politicians they buy for their business concerns tend to be part of the religious right who are socially conservative.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I remember how “independents” (who vote exclusively Republican) pretended that the tea party was not a right-wing movement, yes.

I remember how the tea party “grassroots” rallies were organized by Freedomworks, funded by the far-right Koch Brothers and led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

I remember how the Tea Party Express buses delivering people to the “grassroots” rallies were paid for by a Republican consulting firm. It’s leader Sam Russo discussed it back in 2010 with the Guardian.

None of this was secret. It was obvious long before September 2009.

The Atlantic – April 13, 2009 – is the organizational landscape of the April 15 tea party movement, in a nutshell: three national-level conservative groups, all with slightly different agendas, are guiding it. All are quick to tell you that the movement is a bottom-up affair and that its grassroots cred is real.

They are: FreedomWorks, the conservative action group led by Dick Armey; dontGO, a tech savvy free-market action group that sprung out of last August’s oil-drilling debate in the House of Representatives; and Americans for Prosperity, an issue advocacy/activist group based on free market principles. Conservative bloggers, talk show hosts, and other media figures have attached themselves to the movement in peripheral capacities. Armey will appear at a major rally in Atlanta, FreedomWorks said.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I never even heard of them before Obama.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

The thing started with a Feb 2009 on the air stunt on CNBC with Rick Santelli whipping up a room of Chicago Mercantile Exchange traders (wealthy Republicans) to boo at Obama’s attempts to slow down home foreclosures.

Freedomworks was a few years older, but their tea party scheme started in 2009.

Strauss's avatar

I also remember feeling that the grass roots element of the movement had been co-opted. That’s when people started calling it an “astro-turf” movement.

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