Can the Left organise?

Protests take influence from conservative Tea Party movement

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What is the Tea Party movement?

It all began with a rant by a journalist.

Reporting live from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2009, CNBC Business News editor Rick Santelli loudly proclaimed his frustration against government bail-outs in wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Cheered on by traders in the background, he complained that the aid was "promoting bad behaviour" and the government should not help these "losers".

He called for a "tea party" and less than 10 days later, protests against 'big governments' occurred in 40 cities across the US - including the Taxpayer March on Washington.

They got their name from the Boston Tea Party, the famed act of American colonial defiance in protest against taxation. According to, when the British government tried to boost the troubled East India Company, they adjusted import duties under the Tea Act in 1773. Although tea shipments had been rejected in Charleston, New York and Philadelphia, merchants in Boston refused to concede under Patriot pressure.

On December 16, 1773, Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty boarded ships in Boston harbour and threw over 300 chests of tea overboard. This protest resulted in punitive measures by the British government, and pushed both sides closer to civil war.

The BBC writes that the Tea Party has three central tenets: fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets.

In a survey conducted by CBS News and the New York Times in 2012, members of the movement said they were "angry" about the health care reform bill, the government not representing the people, government spending, and the state of the economy and unemployment.

Tea Party members are overwhelmingly white (89%) and older, with three in four members being over 45-years-old - and 29% of Tea Partiers aged 65 and over.

They tend to be better educated than the average American: 37% are college graduates, compared to 25% in America overall. They are also on a higher income with over half of members earning more than $50,000 per year.

Although the Tea Party does not have any party political affiliation, the majority of members are Republican and disapproved of the Obama administration (88%). When asked about their dissatisfaction, members said "they just don't like him", he is a socialist and he is dishonest.

After its first large-scale protest in 2009, Donald Trump said "I don't march with the Tea Party". At the time, his views did not align with the movements, because he was pro-bank bailouts, pro-stimulus and pro-socialised medicine.

The National Review declared the Tea Party movement "dead" in 2016, after Sarah Palin's endorsement of Mr Trump's candidacy.

However, Politico said it was "alive and well" with its values and principles "finally gaining the top seat of power in the White House".

After being anti-government for so many years, the Tea Party is now part of the establishment it protested against so vehemently.

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