Tea Party 101: Who are its followers and what do they want?

Of all the protest signs at all the rallies where people gathered last year to object to Washington's plans to save the US economy and reform healthcare, this hand-lettered one is memorable: "You can't fix stupid, but you can vote it out."

That's the "tea party" movement in a nutshell.

What do tea partyers want?

The movement, in its essence, is about safeguarding individual liberty, cutting taxes, and ending bailouts for business while the American taxpayer gets burdened with more public debt. It is fueled by concern that the United States under Mr. Obama is becoming a European-style social democracy where individual initiative is sapped by the needs of the collective.

"The issue is no longer tea tariffs and imperial rule, but bailouts and handouts, stimulus in the face of deficits, cap and trade [on carbon emissions], universal healthcare … dictated against the will and interest of the people, and at the peril of … the nation as a whole" leading to "an inevitable blow-back in a battle over America's constitutional principles," writes O'Hara in "A New American Tea Party," which was published in February.


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