As I understand the Tea Party, it isn't a political party like the American Democratic and Republican Parties, or even the American Communist and Socialist Parties. It isn't organized on a national basis. It doesn't have a central headquarters. I don't think it even has a centralized web page. It's not well funded. It's loosely affiliated: mostly locally organized groups bound by an idea.
It's not a new idea. In fact, it's the idea on which this country was founded: that large, extremely wealthy, all powerful, all consuming, empire-like governments that collude with equally empire-like corporations are . . . well, maybe not necessarily evil (that'd be giving evil a bad name, if it's possible to do that), but certainly detrimental to life, economic liberty, and individual freedom.
The Tea Party is probably most similar to the American Libertarian Party, which does have a web page and national headquarters. I can see the Tea and Libertarian Parties someday merging into a formidable political organization.
But oddly enough, even though the Tea Party and the Libertarian Party are similar in belief, the Libertarian Party doesn't scare the living daylights out of every federal government employee like the little old Tea Party does. When people in Washington DC--including many republicans--hear the words "Tea Party," they lash out like cornered animals.
Rightly so: even though the Tea Party is still mostly just an idea, it's wide spread; and despite the federal government's heavy media pressure to demonize the Tea Party by distorting its beliefs, the idea has taken hold, and I think it's spreading to more and more people every day; and, again, it's an idea that rightly scares the living daylights out of everybody in or affiliated with the D.C. beltway area.
Consider: People who hold the Tea Party's ideas talk about things like reducing the federal government's size and funding by at least a third.
When I was a kid, my mom said that people who get government jobs can't get fired. So it's been true for a long time that people get government jobs for security; and now that federal and some state (certainly not Florida) government salaries average much higher than those in the private sector, government jobs are gems: unlimited job security, great pay, and enviable benefits.
Who gets a government job with the intention of moving on? Nobody. Everybody who works for the government intends to work for the government until retirement and then get full benefits and 75 percent of annual salary (and in some cases, secret-service protection) for life. Some rotate between bureaucratic and lobbyist positions, but they never stray too far from big mamma government with its promise of enduring, unconditional--and lately, burgeoning--financial security.
Is it any wonder, then, the idea that's the bubbling, growing, strengthening lifeblood of the Tea Party scares the living daylights out of these people, or that politicians on both sides of the aisle see the Tea Party as their enemy, or that IRS bureaucrats do what they can to decrease the Tea Party's already meager funding? Is it any wonder that those who've learned to live on government handouts see the Tea Party in their nightmares as a fanged monster, or that anybody who's profiting on the current dearth of individual thought and action sees the Tea Party as a threat?
Here's the irony. The harder those who've created and are benefiting from our sprawling, consumptive, and increasingly authoritarian government fight to preserve, strengthen, and enlarge it, the stronger the Tea Party grows; the more its dynamic idea spreads from person to person. Barack Obama--massive, sprawling, all-powerful government's terminally insincere champion--has probably done more to spread the Tea Party's foundational idea than any president in U.S. history; more than any person in human history since England's King George III who, in concert with the British Parliament, breathed life into the very idea that fuels our Tea Party today. Our executive and legislative branches today are a lot like the 18th century's British Crown and Parliament.
The Tea-Party idea, in the 18th century, was the seed that erupted into the Revolutionary War which--according to Wikipedia, anyway--grew into a World War, with Great Britain on the one side, and the fledgling United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and India on the other. It resulted in an entirely new nation which, based on the Tea Party's revolutionary idea--government serves and meekly obeys the people, instead of the other way around--quickly grew into the greatest and most powerful in human history.
So I can understand our federal government's and its affiliates' fear of the Tea Party and its foundational idea. I'd even go so far as to say that when people in the IRS illegally persecute Tea Party groups, they're not doing it for Barack Obama; they're doing it to save their jobs.
But we might do well to remember these times, because our grandchildren might some day ask us how it all started, and we can tell them, "Well, the American political left elected a man named Barack Obama to the presidency, and . . .."