This seems to be a question that gets asked to us by people of all stripes and political backgrounds – “Is the Tea Party secretly funded by a political party (hence the frequently used Astroturf word) or other organization?”
First off, if you are looking to gain employment or be privately funded by a political party, then being part of a movement that continues to highlight the shortcomings of both parties is not the way to go. Secondly, if you knew how excited we get when we receive any donation, like the unsolicited check for $500 we received yesterday that had us all jumping for joy, you would laugh at the assertion that we are secretly funded by some bottomless pit of money. What is ironic about the questions are that the Democrats accuse us of being funded by the Republicans and the Republicans accuse us of being funded by “someone, we just can’t figure out who yet.” What is remarkable about both of these positions is that neither party can seem to fathom a movement with this much intensity and commitment that isn’t motivated by power and money.
For all of us in the Tea Party movement who stay up until 1:30am every night working on Tea Party projects, meet multiple times a month to strategize and plan, pay for our own gas, babysitters, and supplies so we can attend Tea Party events, use vacation days to attend protests/rallies, take significant amounts of time away from our family and STILL donate money to the Tea Party…we find the accusations highly offensive.
Richmond Tea Party was built on the endless volunteer hours of dedicated patriots. As our Founder, Sara, often said, ”it is a labor of love and we live off of people’s encouragement and notes of appreciation.” It has grown into a movement that now represents and has the active participation of thousands in the Richmond area. It will be interesting to see how long it takes both parties to realize that the only thing motivating us is our passion for shrinking the size of government, fiscal competence, and loyalty to the Constitution.
Richmond Tea Party is a grassroots organization to its core. While it is hard for the other political parties to imagine that a grassroots movement can exist outside of their party, let’s look at the definition of grassroots according to Wikipedia –
A grassroots movement is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures. Grassroots movements are often at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time to support the local party, which can lead to helping the national party.
Wikipedia goes on to further define the techniques that a grassroots movement employs to organize and lobby:
hosting house meetings or parties having larger meetings putting up posters talking with pedestrians on the street (often involving informational clipboards) gathering signatures for petitions setting up information tables raising money from many small donors for political advertising or campaigns organizing large demonstrations asking individuals to submit opinions to media outlets and government officials holding get out the vote activities, which include the practices of reminding people to vote and transporting them to polling places
This sure sounds like Richmond Tea Party! We are grassroots to the core. Don’t misunderstand us though, we hope to be a formidable player financially as well, but our financial support will come from individual and small business patriots. We pledge to take no bailouts, stimulus funds, NGO funding, or public grants. :) If you still don’t get it, then we encourage you to listen to this interview between Katie Couric and some Tea Party leaders. They do a good job of fleshing out who we are as a movement. I know, it is Katie Couric, but it is actually very well done much to our surprise.