Tea party marchers take to the streets of Manhattan in April 2009.
Tea party loyalists may be situated at the right side of the political spectrum, but that doesn’t mean the upstart political movement is an adjunct to the Republican Party, no siree. As it evolves, the loosely unified conservative coalition may be moving farther away from the GOP’s orbit. —KA
Interviews with Tea Partiers across the country paint a picture of a genuine, amorphous, conservative grassroots movement united by three core principles: constitutionally limited government, free market ideology and low taxes. The American Constitution is a rallying cry and many now dub themselves “constitutional conservatives.”
They are angry not just at what they describe as the socialist policies of U.S. President Barack Obama. They also feel Republican politicians have betrayed the party’s ideals. For many in the movement, purging the party of moderate Republicans is a major goal.
“I used to be a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. Now if we have a Republican lined up to come to our meetings, I don’t even want to go,” said Nate Friedl, 41, a member of the Rock River Patriots, a Tea Party group in southern Wisconsin.
Following a first year marked by protests, the movement is evolving. The political novices of a year ago are forming coalitions and learning how to change things from the ground up.