Get To Know the Tea Party Movement

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Last week while ellipticizing at my university’s gym, The Rachel Maddow Show played on one of the large TVs facing the cardio section. (Yeah, that’s what happens when you go to school in D.C.) The hot topic of the day: Christine O’Donnell.

In the recent 2010 Republican primary, O’Donnell beat 9-time U.S. Rep and former governor Mike Castle for the spot as the Republican bid in the upcoming election for Senate. O’Donnell’s win shocked many Americans, most of them uttering a resounding “WTF?” Despite her bizarre past and surfacing videos warning all about the spiritual dangers of masturbation, O’Donnell still managed to garner enough support in the state of Delaware to become a definite force, and a legitimate threat to Democrats, in the upcoming election.

Her recent success may be due to some sort of inexplicable star-power she seems to possess, much like that of Sarah Palin (who is a big supporter of O’Donnell). Or, more plausibly, it may be due to the Tea Party movement’s overwhelming backing of this Delaware Republican.

Beyond O’Donnell, the Tea Party has gained copious amounts of press in recent years. They’ve been everywhere from the news to the Capitol. Notwithstanding their newfound fame, though, a lot of people are still confused about their origin, their members, and their platform.

Why is it important to know the answers to these questions? Because the movement is quickly becoming a huge factor in American politics and, being that we will soon be out in the real world living under the laws and policies being made now, it is imperative to understand who it is that will be making said laws and policies.

So I’m gonna break it all down for ya. Below: CollegeCandy’s very own (and hopefully not too boring) Guide To The Tea Party Movement, America’s newest controversial political group.

What’s with the name?
The Tea Party movement deemed itself as such in response to several policies concerning the economy and healthcare reform that were made in or around 2009. Their inspiration was the Boston Tea Party. You know, the 1773 colonists who protested the British government’s attempt to monopolize the tea industry in America? Those guys we learned about in 4th grade history? The contemporary Tea Party Movement’s goal is to fight big, bad government, too. But this time, the protesters are fighting within their own country.

Who are they?
Based on a poll conducted by the NYT last April, they tend to be “Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.” A whopping 18% of Americans are members of the Tea Party movement (that’s HUGE!) and can be deemed “very conservative.” However, they can also be categorized as “angry,” rather than simply upset or unhappy concerning the current administration.

What do they stand for?
Ironically enough, they tend to agree with the general public on many issues that affect Americans daily, such as education, fair taxes, and a general HA toward Sarah Palin’s desire to run for President (although not a unanimous one). But, their pessimism towards the Obama Administration and Washington in general is fueled by three major issues: “the recent health care overhaul, government spending and a feeling that their opinions are not represented in Washington.” Oh, and they really like to protest (and make signs). All in all, they feel Washington is pushing and passing extremely “un-American” legislation.

Why do they matter?
It’s easy, but definitely not wise, to write them off as some new ideological phase. Embracing local meetings, and with the aid of the Internet, the Tea Party movement has gained an immense amount of support by many Americans and has developed decent political clout thanks to its supporters. They are spread all across the country and can definitely make a huge impact on the future of this country. The group is a definite hurdle in the Obama Administration’s political agenda and doesn’t appear to be diminishing any time soon.

So, as O’Donnell runs for office in November, keep your eyes peeled for the Tea Party movement’s influence. No matter your party affiliation or political beliefs, this somewhat grassroots movement is unmistakably interesting to follow and necessary for any college student (or American citizen) to be aware of.

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