Angry citizens in February protested Congress' $790 billion stimulus bill with a series of Boston Tea Party-style tax revolts in a handful of cities from San Diego to Chicago. Now the idea is going national. Organizers in at least 34 states have planned April 15 "Tax Day" tea parties to protest $3 trillion in spending approved by Congress since President Obama took office.
In December 1773, a group of colonists called the Sons of Liberty stole aboard East India Company cargo ships moored in Boston Harbor and dumped nearly 90,000 pounds of tea into the sea. A major trigger for the American Revolution, the act was a direct protest to unfair tax policies levied against the colonies by the British government-including a measure that directly aided the financially distressed East India Company.
This year's Tax Day tea parties, many to be held in state capitals according to www.taxdayteaparty.com, will protest what organizers see as unfair federal tax-and-spend policies, including private-business bailouts such as that of the automotive industry.
Volunteers in dozens of other cities are also planning Taxed Enough Already (TEA) rallies on April 15. The American Family Association (AFA), which created www.teapartyday.com as a clearinghouse of information to encourage citizen involvement, hopes that as many as 1,000 rallies will take place that day.
"If [Congress members] get wind of the fact that these tea parties are being held across the country," said Michael DePrimo of AFA, "it may very well gain their attention that if they want to get reelected, they are going to have to heed the will of the people."
But protesting spending policies isn't the tea parties' only purpose. Organizers also aim to build a base of grassroots conservatives, said Toni Backdahl, Minnesota state coordinator for several groups including Top Conservatives on Twitter.
"There are hundreds of thousands of people who are very concerned" about government spending, Backdahl said. "We want to motivate them to apply for open spots on local and state commissions and boards. Our biggest concern is to out-lobby the liberals. We're looking for a balance in the statehouse."