Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tea Party: A movement that has no leaders makes an impact on U.S. political scene

The Tea Party movement started with a rant by a U.S. television personality against bailouts. Then 11 months later, almost by magic, it helped elect a Republican as a senator in Massachusetts. On Tuesday, Scott Brown came from behind to defeat his Democratic opponent, taking the seat held by liberal Democratic icon Ted Kennedy for decades before he died last year. It was the first tangible sign a national movement -- without headquarters, offices, membership cards, newsletters, monthly dues or even a phone number -- was gaining momentum and clout. "It's a true grass-roots movement," said Dennis Hale, a political science professor at Boston College. "So in a way, it doesn't actually exist. We haven't seen this kind of genuine grass-roots movement since the 1960s." Small groups of citizens around the state, as they have been doing across the country, began forming Tea Party groups. They would register their name on the main website, Tea Party Patriots, so others could find them. Then, the groups held small rallies, or tea parties, to express their anger over government bailouts of banks, auto companies and bad mortgages, and about Barack Obama's health-care plan. Fox News helped by plugging rallies nationwide. Meantime, a group called Tea Party Express began raising money for Mr. Brown and running television ads for more

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