It all started, as most tea parties do, with tea bags. In January 2009, before President Barack Obama's Inauguration, a part-time trader by the name of Graham Makohoniuk posted an invitation on the Market Ticker Forums: "Mail a Tea Bag to Congress & to Senate." The unusual request was in reference to the historic Boston Tea Party protest, whose motto "No taxation without representation" appealed to present-day conservatives who are concerned about Big Government, overspending and taxation. As tea bags poured into congressional offices, the Tea Party movement mobilized, and before long, protests sprang up across the country, focusing on everything from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to Obama's stimulus plan. Two years later, official Tea Party protests have waned along with their colorful signage but that doesn't mean the group has less clout. With big names (like Sarah Palin) and big money (from David and Charles Koch) behind it, the Tea Party grew from a grassroots phenomenon into a powerful movement that fueled the Republicans' return to the majority in the House in the 2010 midterm elections.
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