Excerpt: Rand Paul's 'The Tea Party Goes to Washington'


The Tea Party movement has become one of the most powerful and extraordinary movements in recent American political history. It is as popular as both the Democratic and Republican parties. It is potentially strong enough to elect senators, governors and congressmen. It may even be strong enough to elect the next president of the United States—time will tell. But the Tea Party movement has been one of the most derided and minimized and, frankly, most disrespected movements in American history. Yet, despite being systematically ignored, belittled, marginalized, and ostracized by political, academic, and media elites, the Tea Party movement has grown stronger and stronger...demonstrating a level of activism and enthusiasm that is both unprecedented and arguably unique in recent American political history.

The Tea Party continues to endure and grow whether the establishment likes it or not. The slanders and lies political elites have directed toward the Tea Party not only have had little effect, but simply make it more attractive to countless Americans fed up with the condescending attitudes of those elites.

And not surprisingly, questioning the Tea Party's legitimacy has been only one of many attack tactics.

Left-Wing Prejudice on Full Display

As I mentioned, the Tea Party is perhaps described as an open mic night, something anyone who attends a party event would immediately understand. But it seems some who would never dare attend a Tea Party rally also see a sort of nightclub dynamic, though not in the positive manner I do. Said MSNBC's Keith Olbermann of Tea Party events: "It is as if a group of moderately talented performers has walked on stage at a comedy club on improv night. Each hears a shout from the audience, consisting of a bizarre but just barely plausible fear or hatred or neurosis or prejudice." Hatred? Neurosis? Prejudice? Each of these words better describes Olbermann and his network, and no event I've attended even remotely resembles the left-wing pundit's characterization of Tea Partiers.

Chicago Tribune syndicated columnist Clarence Page did something few mainstream columnists do—he actually attended a Tea Party event before he wrote about it. Page, who criticizes the movement as "a slogan in search of an agenda," nevertheless has effectively gauged and described its genesis: "Tea Parties lack much in the way of formal structure, leadership, or agendas because their movement is an orphan, unified by a shared sense of abandonment by Republicans and cluelessness by Democrats." Page is right. Most Tea Parties lack any formal structure, board of directors, etc. It truly is a spontaneous, grassroots movement for people to air grievances with their government. In this spirit of dissent, the Tea Party is quintessentially American, and I respect Page (even though he doesn't agree with the Tea Party message), simply because he doesn't attempt to vilify the movement with race baiting and name calling.

The vast majority of Tea Parties are held in public squares and public parks, not convention centers and ballrooms. They don't require tickets or pre-registration. They draw all kinds of people and there are always a few there to provoke and carry offensive signs. If you get 100,000 people together there are going to be a few outliers and, in a public square or park, event organizers can't stop people from standing around and holding stupid signs.

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