In order to understand what died, you must first understand what lived.
Much like the original Boston Tea Party , the events of the last few years called “tea parties” were a series of protests, not a movement. It was individuals from 2007-2009 spontaneously hosting rallies across the US because we felt both helpless and angry at the same time, and didn’t know where else to turn. We knew things with Bush and Obama had gone terribly wrong. We also knew we should make our voices heard, but didn’t know what to do or where to channel that frustration.
Like most Americans, we knew that government led by both parties was bringing the Republic to its knees through financial ruin, and we knew something must be done. It was the re-birth of the American conscience, and it was awesome!
One of the most amazing things in those first few years was finding hundreds, then thousands of people who felt the same way. We had no clue there were so many like-minded people, because we had been too busy living our lives and supporting our families to focus on babysitting political leaders.
But now the battle had been brought to us – through irresponsible fiscal policy, unrestrained government intervention into almost every part of life and a complete disregard for any kind of free enterprise system. We watched in horror as the Republic was being pushed off a cliff, and we all jumped up to stop it.
We rallied in local towns, we rallied in DC, we attended town halls, we wrote letters to elected officials, we started call campaigns. We protested against government intrusion, and we successfully changed the narrative in the United States to think more about the role of government in our lives and future. It was successful and it was fun!
Begin 2010, the year the “tea party” died.
It died for all the right reasons. Protests were no longer necessary. They served a purpose in 2007-2009 to shape a national narrative and unite people who didn’t previously know each other, and that was great.
But by 2010, everyone understood protests weren’t going to fix things. Protests weren’t going to secure public policy consistent with our beliefs and principles, so the tea party – out of absolute necessity – died.
Of course the people didn’t go away and they weren’t any less motivated. We were just far more focused. In 2010 – we focused on a single objective: taking the gavel from Nancy Pelosi’s hands.
We didn’t work phone banks, walk neighborhoods and work polls because we believed in the latest poll tested talking points the Republicans were shoveling our way. No, we knew that protest signs had to be laid down because we had to focus on buying ourselves time, and the only way to do that was to get rid of Pelosi as Speaker. Nothing was more important. It too was successful and fun!
2011 and beyond – if the tea party is dead, what came after it? What are these former protestors doing now?
Those same people, initially frustrated and helpless, learned a lot through those years. We learned what works and what doesn’t in campaigns. We learned about new areas on which to focus in order to fix the system. We learned about the tools, the impact points, the need to fundraise, build infrastructure, measure political objectives and adapt tools and resources to meet all those needs.
There was an explosion of highly competent individuals all over the country – entrepreneurs for liberty. We were bringing free enterprise know-how to the political process and doing some amazing things. We launched new social networks, ran statewide campaigns, ran for office and even created new mobile and web-based applications focused on organization and impact.
In short – we grew up. We evolved from protests to effective action in a very short period of time.
Now, we completely understand that change comes not from shouting in a town square, but from a methodical, well-planned approach to changing how the political system works.
We completely understand that most Americans simply want economic freedom to provide for themselves and their families and personal freedom to choose the life that they want to live. We understand that this is common ground, and we had to leave the silly party based fights behind us. We learned that issues unite people, not political parties who only divide.
We learned that through federalism and focus on our own backyards – through states first, we could achieve everything. We embraced the reality that only through self-ownership at the state level will change trickle up to the national level.
The tea party died, because those of us who helped launch those early protests were smart enough to adapt our tactics to focus on results and a long term view of what change should look like. We adjusted both goals and expectations, and I am incredibly encouraged at the amazing leaps we are making because we have come to understand, the goal is liberty.
The tea party may have died and the protests may have come to an end, but the individuals who champion the cause of liberty are stronger and more effective than ever. And, maybe as important as anything…our numbers are quietly growing. However off the radar it may appear, liberty is on the rise and I am incredibly encouraged by all the bright young minds who keep things moving forward.