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April 19th, 2010
10:51 AM ET

Tea Party protests are a good thing

Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst

An angry bunch of Americans has taken to the streets to protest government spending and the direction of the nation, and judging by the massive media coverage, it's as if we have been invaded by a foreign entity, marching on state capitals and Washington ready to lead a coup d'état against our elected officials.

The rise of the Tea Party is being chronicled as a threat to democracy, or a grassroots collective unlike anything we have seen in many years.

As Public Enemy wisely put it with their hit song in 1988, "Don't Believe the Hype!"

First, let's deal with the Tea Party haters. Please, shut up.

How can any liberal, progressive, moderate or conservative be mad about a group of Americans taking to the streets to protest the actions of the country? What they are engaged in is constitutional. The freedom to assemble, march, walk, scream and yell is right there in the document we all abide by.

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Filed under: Roland S. Martin • Tea Party
April 16th, 2010
11:11 AM ET

Tea Party leader: What we want

Tea Party activists hold an anti-tax rally Thursday morning at Freedom Plaza in Washington.

Tea Party activists hold an anti-tax rally Thursday morning at Freedom Plaza in Washington.

Phillip Dennis
Special to CNN

The modern Tea Party movement began on February 27, 2009, when small groups in 22 American cities gathered to protest the signing of President Obama's stimulus bill.

The Tea Party groups viewed the stimulus bill as the crowning moment of decades of irresponsible government fiscal behavior. The federal government is addicted to spending, and the consequences are now staring us in the face.

Our national debt is at emergency levels and growing rapidly. Congressional Budget Office head Doug Elmendorf recently said the nation's fiscal path is simply "unsustainable." And yet this financial crisis seems obvious to virtually everyone except our elected officials in Washington.

Tea Party members are not averse to paying taxes. However, taxpayers are stretched thin, and piling more taxes on their backs is not the answer. We do not understand nor approve of Washington's insatiable appetite for spending, because that's not the way we as individuals live. We do not massively overspend today and borrow money tomorrow to cover the bills. As California and New York are learning, that ride eventually comes to an end.

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Filed under: Tea Party
April 15th, 2010
04:31 PM ET

Tea Party names its heroes and targets

Tea Party activists hold an anti-tax rally Thursday morning at Freedom Plaza in Washington.

Tea Party activists hold an anti-tax rally Thursday morning at Freedom Plaza in Washington.

Alexander Mooney
CNN Political Unit

Leaders of the Tea Party Express marked Tax Day on Thursday by celebrating their efforts over the last year and unveiling a list of "heroes" and targets" ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.

In a lengthy news conference that partially amounted to a pat on the back for their efforts at affecting a handful of key races in the last several months, the group said it is supporting only candidates it feels have a viable shot at winning next November.

"In politics, you always have to be careful to promise what to do," said Sal Russo, a GOP consultant who is aiding the Tea Party in its efforts. "We try to keep our focus on the doable. We have a lot of wonderful candidates that simply can't win. So our focus is on the candidates that can win so we can really focus on taking America back."

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Filed under: Republicans • Taxes • Tea Party
April 14th, 2010
02:23 PM ET

Poll: 1 in 10 say they're Tea Party activists

CNN

Ten percent of Americans say they have actively supported the Tea Party movement, and those Tea Party activists are older, better educated and more religious than the general public, according to a new national poll.

Of the Tea Party activists questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday morning, seven of 10 call themselves conservatives.

Nearly eight in 10 would vote for a Republican candidate for Congress if the midterm elections were held today. Six in 10 Tea Party activists are male.

However, the Tea Party movement, now in its 14th month, is not well known to nearly half the country. Forty-five percent of all Americans say they do not know enough about the Tea Party to say whether they support it or oppose it.

Those who are familiar with the movement are divided right down the middle - 27 percent support the Tea Party movement, and 27 percent oppose it.

One out of every 10 people says they have donated money, attended a rally, or taken some other active step to support the Tea Party movement.

The poll indicates that 60 percent of this core group of Tea Party activists are male, six in 10 are over the age of 50, two-thirds attended college, and half say they attend church services weekly or almost every week.

By comparison, 48 percent of all Americans are male, 45 percent are age 50 or older, 54 percent attended college, and four in 10 go to church every week or nearly every week.

Tea Party activists, known for their vocal opposition to government spending and taxes, are set to hold rallies in the nation's capital and across the country on Thursday - the day federal tax returns are due.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll was conducted April 9-11, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Tea Party
April 14th, 2010
02:19 PM ET

Tea Party battles for 'soul of this country'

Sarah Palin praised Tea Party activists in Boston, Massachusetts, on Wednesday for 'shaking up' the U.S Senate last January.

Sarah Palin praised Tea Party activists in Boston, Massachusetts, on Wednesday for 'shaking up' the U.S Senate last January.

Kristi Keck
CNN

As Tax Day approaches, Tea Party activists are uniting to voice the message they've been honing for more than a year: It's time to reduce the size of government, honor the Constitution and return to fiscal responsibility in Washington.

The Tea Party Express' third cross-country tour brings activists to Boston, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, before culminating with an anti-tax rally at the nation's capital on Thursday.

The "Just Vote Them Out!" tour has weaved through areas represented by vulnerable Democrats, bringing thousands to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hometown in Nevada on its opening day. The tour's other top target - Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan - announced his retirement the same day the tour was in his turf.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Tea Party
April 8th, 2010
02:45 PM ET

Tea Party Express to rally against Michigan's Stupak

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, center, gained attention for his role in helping House Democrats pass health care legislation.

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, center, gained attention for his role in helping House Democrats pass health care legislation.

Dana Bash | BIO
Paul Steinhauser
CNN Political Unit

The Tea Party Express is predicting large crowds for five events Thursday and Friday aimed at unseating U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan.

The events are being held in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which is part of the Democrat's large and rural First Congressional District.

The rallies come as sources said the top two House Democrats called Stupak to urge him to stay in Congress. A Stupak spokeswoman didn't confirm or deny rumors that the lawmaker is considering retiring from Congress.

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Filed under: Democrats • Harry Reid • Tea Party
April 7th, 2010
10:23 AM ET

Reporter's notebook: What really happens at Tea Party rallies

CNN has been covering the Tea Party Express' national tour. Producer Shannon Travis traveled a thousand miles covering them.

CNN has been covering the Tea Party Express' national tour. Producer Shannon Travis traveled a thousand miles covering them.

Shannon Travis
CNN Political Producer

When it comes to the Tea Party movement, the stereotypes don't tell the whole story.

Here's what you often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: offensive posters blasting President Obama and Democratic leaders; racist rhetoric spewed from what seems to be a largely white, male audience; and angry protesters rallying around the Constitution.

Case in point: During the health care debate last month, opponents shouted racial slurs at civil rights icon Georgia Rep. John Lewis and one person spit on Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. The incidents made national headlines, and they provided Tea Party opponents with fodder to question the movement.

But here's what you don't often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: Patriotic signs professing a love for country; mothers and fathers with their children; African-Americans proudly participating; and senior citizens bopping to a hip-hop rapper.

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Filed under: Raw Politics • Tea Party
April 5th, 2010
05:19 PM ET

Risk for GOP comes from extreme fringe

Tea Party supporters, whose party affiliation is not known, rally in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Tea Party supporters, whose party affiliation is not known, rally in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

As he stood before the delegates of the 1964 Republican Convention in San Francisco, California, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, the party's presidential nominee, said, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

The delegates, who had booed New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller when he called for the party to respect moderation, were thrilled. Many of Goldwater's supporters were determined to push their party toward the right wing of the political spectrum. They felt that their party leaders, including President Eisenhower, had simply offered a watered-down version of the New Deal.

Yet Goldwater soon learned that extremism could quickly become a political vice, particularly to a party seeking to regain control of the White House. The right wing of the Republican Party in the early 1960s inhabited a world that included extremist organizations, such as the John Birch Society, that railed against communism.

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Filed under: President Barack Obama • Republicans • Tea Party
April 2nd, 2010
10:35 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Scientology – who's telling the truth?

Tea Party protesters will be waiting for President Obama in North Carolina today.

Clare O'Connor
AC360° Intern

Tonight we continue our series ‘Scientology: A history of violence.’ All week we’ve been reporting on allegations made by a number of former high ranking members of the Church of Scientology. The allegations are about physical abuse they say took place within the Sea Organization, the international management branch of the church.

Last night we asked former and current members of Scientology what happens when a person decides to leave the Church. Tonight we speak to former members of the Church. They react to the comments their ex-wives – who are all current Scientologists – made about them and their allegations during an interview with Anderson. Who’s telling the truth?

We’re also looking at the nation’s jobs report for March, out today. The Labor Department report shows the biggest job gain in three years, with 162,000 new jobs in the month of March compared to 14,000 jobs lost in February. The gains were spread across various sectors of the workforce, with 60 percent of industries adding jobs this month. Do you notice a change in your community?

Still, despite today’s news, 80 percent of Americans think the country’s economic conditions are poor. Today, President Obama goes to North Carolina to talk jobs and recovery. He will visit a rechargeable battery factory in Charlotte to promote green energy jobs. Waiting for him will be Tea Party activists, who plan to protest outside the factory. They want to show Obama that they’re opposed to the recent healthcare overhaul. We look at both sides of the debate tonight.

We also continue our coverage on bullying in schools around America. All week we’ve been reporting on the sad story of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, who committed suicide in January after allegedly being bullied by classmates in her North Hadley, Mass., school. But this is a problem present in schools across the country. What can be done to prevent it and who should be held accountable? We speak to Rosalind Wiseman, a parenting expert and author of “Queen Bees and Wannabees,” tonight.

What else are you following today? Let us know, and see you tonight at 10 p.m.


Filed under: President Barack Obama • Tea Party • The Buzz
March 29th, 2010
11:39 AM ET

Risk for GOP comes from extreme fringe

Police stood guard outside the Capitol before the recent health care vote to deal with threats of violence.

Police stood guard outside the Capitol before the recent health care vote to deal with threats of violence.

Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

As he stood before the delegates of the 1964 Republican Convention in San Francisco, California, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, the party's presidential nominee, said, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

The delegates, who had booed New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller when he called for the party to respect moderation, were thrilled. Many of Goldwater's supporters were determined to push their party toward the right wing of the political spectrum. They felt that their party leaders, including President Eisenhower, had simply offered a watered-down version of the New Deal.

Yet Goldwater soon learned that extremism could quickly become a political vice, particularly to a party seeking to regain control of the White House. The right wing of the Republican Party in the early 1960s inhabited a world that included extremist organizations, such as the John Birch Society, that railed against communism.

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Filed under: Julian E. Zelizer • Republicans • Tea Party
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