What had been only a slim chance turned instead into a rout, with Tea party backed candidates winning a number of seats in both the US House and Senate. And today those candidates took office.
What had once been derided (and still is) as a fringe "astroturf" political cult became a force to be reckoned with as more Americans, disgusted with the way both Congress and the White House ignored them, took to the streets and the polls to register their disgust and mistrust with their representatives in statehouses around the country and in Washington DC. Both the states and the federal government went on spending binges and those who would be stuck with the bill said "Enough! No more!"
This group so changed the political landscape that Front Page named the Tea party their Person of the Year.
Over the past few years, while atrophy of the welfare state system has spurred violent protests in Western Europe, the United States has experienced a parallel, but remarkably distinct phenomenon. In early 2009, desperate Greeks rioted in the streets to demand that their overextended government do more for them in the face of financial crisis. Americans, at the same time, rallied across the nation for their government to do less. More than any one individual alone in 2010, this movement, the Tea Party movement, wrought tremendous change over the political landscape, realizing a historic election and revitalizing the American zeitgeist. The title of FrontPage Magazine's Person of the Year, therefore, must be bestowed collectively on these individuals, the formidable torchbearers of our beloved liberty and prosperity.
And they aren't the only ones paying close attention to the new Tea party members of Congress. ABC News ran stories about them and interviewed ten of them
just before they took office.
Something that caught Diane Sawyer off guard was their answer when asked about their future in Congress:
Whether these new members survive the next election cycle remains to be seen. Not a single one, however, said they expect to be in Congress 10 years from now, a remarkable statement given Congress's ability, with all its power and perks, to make a career politician out of just about anyone.
What I think is remarkable is Diane's disbelief that these ten legislators just want to do their jobs and go home. (This is not a new precedent. Two previous members of the US Senate from New Hampshire, Gordon Humphrey and Warren Rudman, promised to serve only two terms and go home. They kept their promises.)
What makes the Tea party even more interesting is that its 10 basic beliefs
as laid out in the Contract from America
have spurred citizens in other countries to follow their lead, working to restore fiscal sanity to the governments of their nations. The Gadsden flag
, a Revolutionary War era flag carrying the image of a rattlesnake coiled to spring and the words "Don't Tread On Me", became a symbol of the Tea party movement and has appeared in the UK and Australia.
Basically the hardworking taxpaying people have had enough of the profligate spending and economy-killing policies embraced by government and are saying "Enough!" and doing something about it. When a movement crosses borders and garners support from small businessmen and working families, you have to start taking it seriously. Unless one considers these people fringe elements -a claim hard to make after the November mid-term elections - the Tea party has become mainstream. It is "fringe" no more.