Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=156057
Story Retrieval Date: 6/20/2013 12:05:22 AM CST
Dec. 16, 2007 - Ron Paul supporters hold the first anti-tax protest, throwing banners into boxes that read "tyranny" and "no taxation without representation" to re-enact the Boston Tea Party.
August 2008 - ChicagoTeaParty.com registered by Zack Christenson, a conservative radio talk show host.
Feb. 1, 2009 - FedUpUSA calls for Americans to send tea bags to their congressmen in Washington.
Feb. 16, 2009 - About 100 people gather in downtown Seattle to protest the federal stimulus bill.
Feb. 18, 2009 - About 500 people gather in Mesa, Ariz., to protest Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) plan to back mortgage loans with federal money.
Feb. 21, 2009 - More than 100 people gather in Overland Park, Kan., to protest the federal stimulus bill.
Feb. 27, 2009 - The first official Tea Parties are held in 48 locations nationwide.
Apr. 15, 2009 - Tax-day protests held nationwide. Someone throws a box of tea bags over the White House fence.
Sept. 12, 2009 - The 9/12 protests are held at the National Mall in Washington. Thousands attend.
Area conservatives are hoping they can carry a new-found energy and knowledge through the rest of the year and better get their message across.
The energy came from the first Tea Party convention, held over the weekend in Nashville, Tenn.
Vivienne Porter, an organizer for the Homer/Lockport Tea Party who attended the convention, said it gave her valuable insight on how to take her local movement to the next level.
That next level, Porter said, involves educating Tea Party and community members about local, state and national issues and becoming a viable political force in the November elections.
"It was about giving us the tools for finding the right candidates and giving us the skills to push them across the finish line," Porter said of the convention.
Dan Miller, executive vice president of Chicago’s conservative Heartland Institute, said, however, that the movement is too fragmented to see any widespread success.
Miller said the convention was a way for Tea Partiers to show each other how strong they are, not a way to increase the movement's influence on mainstream political parties.
Unless the movement can focus its efforts, Democrats and Republicans alike will shy away from being associated with the Tea Party, he said.
Tea Party members argue it's not about picking one party over the other. Instead, organizers concern themselves with what positions candidates take on issues like taxes, national security, limited government and individual rights.
But those larger national issues don't eclipse local ones.
Many area Tea Party members cite concerns about the possible detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees at Thompson Correctional Center, and fighting the "Daley machine" that many believe is the impetus for Chicago's political controversies.
Unlike some other political movements, the Tea Party approaches issues from the bottom up.
Bill Walker, a member of the Will County Tea Party Alliance, who did not attend the convention, said "it's very, very grassroots."
"There is no overriding authority -- no one is in charge locally, regionally, nationally -- and that's one of its greatest strengths."
Sherry Pierce, a Tea Party organizer in Aurora, said from what she heard, the convention wasn't about filling that leadership void. Instead, it was about educating those present how best to make their voices heard.
"It was to help people learn how to coordinate better," Pierce said. "It's to give you resources to work with and to network with people you may not have known were out there."
Walker agreed. "The convention is simply an extension of everybody's desire to affect the political process," he said.
The convention seems to have stoked the desires of those present.
"2009 was the year of the rally, 2010 is the year of action," Porter said, quoting a speaker at the convention. "It was very positive, very energized, and everybody walked away extremely motivated."