The Tea Party... is it a political party... or more like a "toga party"? As of today the Tea Party is not an official political party, nor is it seen as such by most Americans. Actually, outside of the Tea Party movement itself, most Americans don't have a real "handle" on what the Tea Party believes, does, or is.
There was a Tea Party conducted here in Grants Pass Oregon, a small town of approximately 30,000, on April 15th of 2009. "TEA", in this case, is an acronym representing the phrase "Taxed Enough Already". You should be able to deduce from that acronym - and the date upon which the nation-wide Tea Party was held - that the primary thrust of the movement is stabilized, preferably reduced taxation, and fiscal restraint demonstrated by our government. In fact, inasmuch as the beast of government survives only off the earnings of We the People, doing the first would necessitate the second.
You can now see that the Tea Party movement is (1) against increased taxes, (2) fiscally conservative, and (3) supports the concept of smaller, less powerful federal government - government within the confines of our Constitution.
The liberal radical left wants the world to believe that the Tea Party movement is not a true grass-roots movement, but rather that those extremely intelligent, "rich Republicans" are behind the whole idea. They few are the puppet masters, manipulating the rest of us poor, ignorant Bible-loving, gun-toting, freedom-addicted, Constitution-following dummies into supporting their desire for power. That's how they say they see us, because that's how they wish we really were. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Tea Party is made up of Republicans, Independents, and even some disenchanted Democrats. I'm fairly certain that some of the Republicans are "rich" - as are some of the Independents and some of the Democrats. However, I didn't see any truly exotic or outrageously expensive vehicles at our Tea Party. A few Cadillacs, a couple of Lincolns and a Mercedes or two. Not a Rolls, Bentley, Ferrari or Bugatti anywhere in sight. There were no YSL suits or A. Testoni shoes on the men. No Louis Vitton handbags or Prada shoes worn by the ladies. I saw one sport coat, and two ties in the crowd of 750. This was a working-class, jeans and t-shirt crowd. This was the backbone of America making itself heard!
The turnout here in Grants Pass for the Tax Day Tea Party was 750 people. That works out to 2.5% of the population. Since total figures for the national Tea Party are quite elusive, lets just use that 2.5% against the national population of 306,000,000. That calculates as 7,650,000 participants nationwide. This does not include those who may have been working, hospitalized or otherwise indisposed and were therefore unable to attend - we can consider them as "Tea Party Sympathizers". I won't even attempt to assign a numeric value to them, because I have no idea how many "sympathizers" there may have been. There could only be ten... or as many as ten million.
How is the Tea Party "fractured"? It is fractured by its very structure - or lack thereof. There is no clearly recognized, single focal point for a "National Tea Party Headquarters". The "leadership" is fragmented within geographical regions and even within states -
(1) Judson Phillips is the founder of the Tea Party Nation
(2) Tom Knapp claims to be founder of the 21st century version of the Boston Tea Party
(3) Eric Odom is the founder of the American Liberty Alliance (ALA), the group that launched and organized the tea party movement across the country
(4) Constitutionalist grass roots activist Chad Peace - as part of the original team of people who organized Boston Tea Party re-enactment protests in 50 different cities in late 2007 - claims to be the co-founder of the movement.
And recently, some moron lawyer/radio host in Florida filed a lawsuit to be granted copyrights to the name of Tea Party. There are even more claimants to founding the Tea Party movement!
Such fragmentation makes centralizing power difficult at best, and impossible at worst. The saving factor is that the goals of all the individual groups are the same - lower taxes, fiscal conservatism, and smaller government within the framework of the Constitution. There is, however, one consistent focal point within the movement - Sarah Palin. Sarah is not an official in any of the multiple branches of the movement, but she is the only physical common thread between them all.
The Tea Party Convention was attended by only 600 people. Perhaps there are only 600 "rich Republicans" in the movement, since - at $549 per ticket - it was out of the question for most of us who are associated with the movement. Had it been free - or even $100 per ticket - I'm sure there would have been thousands of attendees. The Tea Party movement has the potential to become the 3rd nationally recognized, viable political party - but only the potential at this point. What seems most likely is that the Tea Party will put its weight behind those candidates who have either proven track records as conservative traditional constitutionalists, or, those political newcomers who show the most promise of demonstrating those traits.
The only thing that is OBVIOUS about the Tea Party movement, is that America is still in the mood for "change", and that we are very unhappy with the ones that have been proposed during the past year by our government. Does government respond to those
indicators in a positive fashion? No... instead of adjusting their behavior, they "go to the mattresses" and begin their siege on Americans - insisting that the 535 people in Washington D.C. know better than the other 306,000,000 what is best for the country.