The 21st century tea party is a political organization that took root in the United States around the time of the 2008 presidential election. The exact founding date of this party can not be pinpointed as it began as a series of small grassroots organizations. Each branch operates independently and functions on private donations.
The modern party takes its name from the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773. This historical event was focused on protesting the government’s increased taxation of colonists. The dramatic political protest has become an iconic example of individuals standing up to the government.
While this party's local organizations often operate independently, all adhere to the same basic values. Fiscal responsibility is a core value of the party, which believes that government spending and ever-increasing national debt pose a serious threat. The party argues for a constitutionally limited government that does not infringe upon individual states’ rights. It opposes any government intervention in free markets.
In the spring and summer of 2009, this party staged anti-tax protests and rallies across the country. Many of these focused on demonstrating the party’s strong opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care plan. The demonstration held 12 September 2009 at the Mall in Washington was the climax of these events. The tea party also strongly opposed the government bailouts that took place in 2008 and the stimulus package of 2009.
As the popularity of local tea parties continues to grow, some larger organizations have emerged to connect these smaller groups. The Tea Party Patriots provide a resource for individuals to connect to tea parties in their area. Along with a listing of local tea parties, the group provides detailed information on starting one’s own tea party. It also maintains a news feed, events calendar, blog roll and discussions group.
The National Tea Party Federation has emerged as another way for local tea parties to work together for a common goal. The main purpose of this group is to increase clear communication throughout the tea party movement. Communication between individual groups as well as with the media is a primary goal.
Some media reports have depicted the tea party as a violent and even racist organization. The National Tea Party Federation (NTPF) counters this portrayal of the party. The NTPF has also partnered with other organizations that have similar goals, including Citizens Against Government Waste, Family Research Council, Americans for Prosperity, and the National Taxpayers Union.