Why the Tea Party Movement Matters

The Tea Party is not a political party but a grass-roots movement that expresses a vast discontent unsettling Americans. What the Tea Partyers share — and why they're a potent force

David Walter Banks for TIME

Convention attendees kneel in prayer at the National Tea Party Convention.

If any one person is the founder, it's Rick Santelli. A year ago, the CNBC commentator blew a gasket on the air over a plan by the Obama Administration to tackle the foreclosure crisis. Multibillion-dollar proposals were flying like snowflakes in Washington, and Santelli's rant struck a chord with people who wondered where all the money would come from. "We're thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party," Santelli declared, evoking the 1773 protest in Boston Harbor. A movement was born. Egged on by conservative interest groups and leveraging Barack Obama's digital-networking strategies, grass-roots opponents of the President's agenda have made themselves...

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