Today's Tea Partiers are typically not accorded the same respect by our mainstream political and media establishment, even as they protest a government arguably more arrogant than that of eighteenth-century England. A tax on tea was an outrage to our ancestors. A $2 trillion deficit and $13 trillion debt has now become an outrage to their descendants. It wasn't unusual for British officials and the press to view colonists who resisted the ruling regime in less-than-flattering terms. (Similarly, as representatives of the current ruling establishment today's political and media elite have little good to say about the Tea Party.) But even in their denial and dismissive attitudes, at some point King George III and his loyalists had to sense that a change of some sort was in the air. Today, whether they like it or not, our government and its loyalists know there's something big happening at the grassroots of American politics.
I first began to sense this when I attended what many consider to be the first modern Tea Party event held on the anniversary of the original, where on December 16, 2007, over a thousand people crammed into the historic Faneuil Hall in Boston for an event in support of my father's 2008 presidential campaign. It took place during one of the worst blizzards the city had experienced in quite some time. The event featured an array of constitutional scholars and limited government advocates, and we shocked the establishment on that date by helping Ron Paul set an all-time record for online fundraising by collecting over $6 million in one day.
Something was definitely brewing.
At that time, the same political establishment that now keeps the Tea Party at arm's length had about the same tolerance for my dad and his growing movement. Ron Paul's political platform of balancing budgets, eliminating debt and championing constitutional government simply didn't fit into a presidential campaign in which the eventual nominees of both parties— both US Senators—had spent their careers exploding budgets, expanding debt and governing outside the Constitution. Fed up with a big government Republican Party and president, Americans were understandably hungry for "change" and in 2008 ended up voting for a Democratic president who promised just that. Today, many Americans have come to regret that vote, as President Obama not only continues to offer the same big government his predecessor did, but a lot more of it.
Early on, most of my father's supporters in 2007–2008 already didn't trust the establishment in either party, and it's no coincidence that the Tea Party today is ingrained with the same bipartisan distrust. So many politicians and pundits now think the Tea Partiers are being unreasonable in this distrust and mock them at every turn. Yet the Tea Party really can't find any tangible reasons to trust most politicians or pundits and continue to mock them accordingly at many events and rallies. Thankfully, the Tea Party continues to be resilient and courageous enough not to allow the establishment to laugh or lampoon them out of existence. As the keynote speaker at the grassroots event held in support of my father's campaign three years ago—dubbed the "second Boston Tea Party"—I told the audience something that remains just as true now for today's larger movement: