And from that day forward the Tea Party has been keen on fanning the flames, not simply as a tireless minority but as a potential majority, with some polls showing that more Americans identify with the Tea Party than either the Republican or Democratic parties. But what could Tea Partiers, to borrow from Adams, be so "irate" about? On that great, historic Tea Party day, I stated it in plain English:
We now pay more in taxes than we spend on food, clothes and housing combined. Taxes are high because spending is out of control. We are spending ourselves into oblivion. The Republicans doubled the deficit from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. The Republicans and Democrats together spent a trillion dollars bailing out the banks and then the Democrats alone spent another trillion dollars on pork barrel spending. This year we will add $1.75 trillion to the deficit. Our deficit, as a percentage of gross national product, is greater than at any time in our history. We are bankrupting this country, and the bottom line is that the politicians don't get it. The only message they will understand is a one-way ticket home. Instead of bringing home the bacon, let's bring home the politicians. Bring them home to live with the mess they've created.
I ended my speech that day with one simple line: "I'm Rand Paul and I approve this message."
The movement had certainly grown beyond just Ron Paul adherents. The Tea Party began to gather forces from every direction, from Sarah Palin fans to supporters of former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. They all came with one grievance foremost on their mind— the national debt. This problem had become so pressing and overwhelming that it had set off brushfires in the minds of millions of Americans across the country. The "tea" in Tea Party is often said to stand for "taxed enough already" and, while the Tea Partiers in each city tended to be social conservatives for a strong national defense, unquestionably their primary motivation was driven by a sincere concern over the size and scope of the national debt.
In the beginning, the Left tried to argue that the Tea Party was little more than top-down organized publicity stunts fomented by FOX News. The reality was actually quite different and much more amazing. In Kentucky, each Tea Party started spontaneously and independent of others. To this day, statewide communication between the different Tea Parties in each city is spotty at best, and yet in city after city thousands of folks gather at local events. This has been the dynamic of the movement nationwide. When a so-called "national" Tea Party convention was held last year, state and local organizers throughout the country issued statements to make it known that there was no national organization that spoke for them.
The Tea Party sprang in each state de novo. It wasn't created by a network. It wasn't created by a billionaire. It came from the people. It has no single leader, is often adamantly against leadership and threatens the power structure of both political parties. It threatens the perquisites and privileges of the establishment and, therefore, many on both sides of the aisle think it must be destroyed. That the Tea Party has so many enemies in the establishment media and government should tell its members they're doing something right.
Open Mic Night