The "Tea Party" is a continuously-expanding grassroots movement formed in 2009 that now boasts millions of members through various organizations. The Tea Party believes that the Federal government excessively infringes on individual liberty, and that the skyrocketing national debt endangers the future of our nation. Its primary political platform advocates individual responsibility, smaller government, reduced spending, lower taxes, and less burdensome regulations. The Tea Party believes adherence to these principles will lead to more personal freedoms, a thriving private sector and a smaller, and more manageable, national debt.
A hallmark of the Tea Party is the size and scope of its rallies, which often include passionate speakers motivating rank-and-file activists and demanding that elected officials act now to reduce the size and scope of government. These events occur frequently at the local and state levels where thousands gather, and occasionally, in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of thousands swarm the capital to make their views known.
The Movement is unique in that it has no central control, nor any national leader. While this has been labeled both a strength and weakness, it is a model that has thus far served the Tea Party well. It was immensely successful in the 2010 elections when forty of its candidates won election to Congress and the Senate. While non-partisan, Tea's philosophy is much more aligned with that of the Republican Party; with the movement's backing, the GOP realized its largest electoral gains since 1946.
Believing a strict interpretation of the Constitution is the best manner in which government decisions should be made, the Tea Party finds itself at odds with liberal elements that advocate a more liberal interpretation in which the Constitution is viewed as a "living" document subject to a flexible, morally relativistic interpretation.
The Tea Party's name is rooted in history, paying tribute to the American colonists who protested against oppressive British rule, culminating in the Boston Tea Party.
The Tea Party's political power continues to grow, and it has been an acknowledged force behind numerous changes in how business is conducted in the halls of Congress. As a testament to that influence, official Tea Party caucuses have been established in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate.