The truth behind the tea parties 

As much as liberals have tried to write it off as an artificial movement -- "Astro-turf," they have said -- you just can't fake a Republican victory in Massachusetts. The Tea Party Movement, named after the now-famous rant offered up by CNBC's Rick Santelli, is the real thing when it comes to political movements.

It was born spontaneously as a reaction to left-wing economic policy. It currently enjoys the kind of following that no single leader on the Right could possibly command, and certainly no one in the corporate world.

The Tea Party Movement's high level of activity reflects true voter anger among mostly Republican and independent voters, upset by what they have seen from the Obama administration -- and yes, from its Republican predecessor, too.

The DCCC's Chairman, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, conceded in a conference call last week that it is a legitimate movement. Instead of giving the typical, demeaning reaction that many politicians give the tea partiers, he expressed hope that grassroots tea partiers will see Republicans for the corporatists they really are.

"I think a lot of folks who have been supporting the Tea Party Movement, when they discover that these Republicans have been voting with the biggest financial interests and against the taxpayer, are going to have a wakeup call," Van Hollen said.

Today, I attended a pen-and-pad session at FreedomWorks, the organization that is probably the closest thing you can point to as the movement's institutional face. Organizers for Tea Party Patriots explained plans for at least two big events this year (another 9-12 march and events on Tax Day), as well as upcoming involvement in political races.

They also discussed their gradual development of a "Contract from America," something Tea Partiers hope to get candidates from both parties to sign.

At the meeting, I spoke for a few minutes with a Tea Partier from Philadelphia, a 67-year-old woman named Diana Reimer. With her retirement plans shattered by the economic collapse of 2008, Reimer became a local leader in the cause because she felt helpless watching Washington make a bad situation even worse.

"It's not that President Obama caused all of this," she tells me. "It's just that things are getting worse, and they don't listen to anyone. Talking to my senators -- to Casey and Specter -- is like talking to this wall."

Reimer is one among some five-dozen tea party activists who are training this week in Washington, D.C. A Reagan Democrat who turned Republican in the early 1980s, she told me that in 2004, when last given the chance, she voted for Arlen Specter, then a Republican senator, over conservative Rep. Pat Toomey in the April primary election. "I voted the way I didn't want to, because I thought Specter would be better for President Bush," she said.

Now, after a year of disillusionment with the Bush legacy and the direction of America's politics, she has found a cause behind which she can rally. And she can't wait to vote for Toomey, either.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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