On Monday, more than 40 rallies will renew the Tea Party movement, ten years after it first caught fire across the nation. Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots (a leading organization but not to be confused with the entire Tea Party movement), gave PJ Media an update on the Tea Party at age ten, and praised President Donald Trump for achieving some of the movement’s goals.
“We stand for three things: personal freedom, economic freedom, and a debt-free future,” Martin told PJ Media. Trump is “helping to expand personal freedom and economic freedom, with the reduction of regulations and the major tax reform and the appointments and confirmation in the Senate of people to the Supreme Court and other courts throughout the country who are originalist and adhere to the Constitution.”
“We’ve had economic growth that we haven’t seen in over a decade in our country and many people have never seen in their adult lives in America,” the Tea Party Patriots co-founder added.
Trump has a great deal more work to do on the debt, however. “We need to reduce government spending,” Martin told PJ Media. She praised Trump’s budgets for reducing the rate of growth, even though they still increase federal spending.
“In order to get a balanced budget, we have to reduce spending and grow the economy. He’s taking one aspect to get a balanced budget,” namely economic growth, but cutting spending is still important to Tea Party goals.
Martin praised Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration as partially addressing the problem of government spending. “He’s working to stem the flow of illegal immigration in our country, which is increasing what we’re having to spend on welfare programs right now because the influx of illegal immigrants is so high at the moment,” she said.
The Tea Party Patriots co-founder admitted that “to be able to do all of that in the first two years of a presidency while under threat of the resistance targeting him the same way the Tea Party was targeted by the IRS” would be an exceedingly tall order. “We’re still very appreciative of the steps he’s taking,” she said.
When it comes to Obamacare, the key issue driving the Tea Party’s success in 2010 and 2014, Martin blamed Congress for the failure to repeal it in 2017. “There were many Republicans who simply failed to repeal or repeal and replace Obamacare. They didn’t have a plan,” she said.
She mocked the many pre-Trump votes to repeal and replace Obama’s health care law as “show votes.”
The Tea Party Patriots co-founder praised Trump for challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, urging the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down the law. “That’s an opportunity for us to regain some of our health care freedom,” she said.
“Republicans need to be ready, which to the credit of the Heritage Foundation, the Galen Institute, and Patriot Voices, they are working to come up with some legislation to replace Obamacare,” Martin added. She refuses to support the legislation until she sees it, but she did say she appreciates the effort.
Back in 2010, the Tea Party warned that under Obamacare, “quality would go down, costs would go up, you wouldn’t be able to keep your doctor, and the left would call for full-blown socialized medicine.”
Indeed, Democrats are now pushing for single-payer health care, under the banner of “Medicare-For-All.” Martin said that this is one of the key drivers of the “Stop Socialism” rallies launching across the nation on Monday.
“Today we have over 400 people who stepped up to hold ‘Stop Socialism, Choose Freedom’ rallies around the country,” she announced.
Here's a map of the @TPPatriots rallies against socialism and for freedom spreading across the country on #TaxDay! The Tea Party is rallying for Trump on its ten-year anniversary. #TeaParty10 @jennybethm pic.twitter.com/a9hsmOGapK
— Tyler O'Neil (@Tyler2ONeil) April 15, 2019
The idea for the rallies came in President Trump’s State of the Union, when he declared, “America will never be a socialist country,” and Democrats refused to clap for that statement. “We were very disturbed Democrats in Congress would not clap for that, would not stand for it,” Martin said.
The Democratic Party’s hard-left shift has reignited the Tea Party, which Martin said launched on February 20, 2009, when Rick Santelli gave an impassioned speech on CNBC. Yet on April 15, 2009 — Tax Day — over 850 Tea Party rallies launched across the country. This powerful movement led Republicans to take the House of Representatives in 2010 and the U.S. Senate in 2014, and eventually helped Trump ascend to the White House.
Jenny Beth Martin recalled the attacks against the Tea Party, when liberals blasted the movement as racist because it opposed President Obama. Martin explained that these attacks were “baseless,” and worse. They ended up “inciting hatred, inciting racism, and dividing our country.”
She recalled one moment in particular. “When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Lewis, during the Saturday before Obamacare was finally passed into law, we had a rally on the lawn of the Capitol,” she said. Pelosi and Lewis walked across the lawn from the Tea Party side to the Capitol. “As soon as they got to the other side, they said these people were racist, they were spitting on us… Andrew Breitbart offered a $100,000 reward for any videos or photos, and people there had cameras.”
If indeed the activists attacked those Democrats and used racist language, “there would have been evidence of it. There was no evidence of it because it did not happen,” Martin said.
In 2016, “the same playbook that the left used against us they have also used against Trump’s supporters in candidate Trump’s campaign and against President Trump once he was in office,” the Tea Party Patriots co-founder said.
“One reason the Tea Party really appreciates President Trump is that we know what it’s like to have these accusations leveled against us,” Martin explained. “We appreciate the fact he stands up for his supporters and in doing so he stands up for us and the whole country.”
She recalled the relentless attacks against the Tea Party, from the IRS delaying Tea Party groups’ nonprofit applications to the Obama Department of Justice spying on pro-Tea Party reporters.
In the case of Tea Party Patriots, “It took almost a year, ten more months before they called us verbally to tell us we would be approved for our application for nonprofit status and another two months to get the application in our hands. Prior to 2010, it took 3-6 months,” Martin recalled.
The IRS targeting “harmed the movement in ways that the ripple effect of it continues.”
Jenny Beth Martin recalled hearing from fellow activists. “I’ve heard from some of those people who said, ‘I got audited back in the early 2000s, but I’m going to do this again.’ But they hadn’t done anything with the Tea Party in four, five, or six years because of what happened to them with the IRS.”
In fact, she even suggested that Democrats were again trying to weaponize the government against Trump. “I fully support the IRS not giving Trump’s tax records to the House. It’s time for the IRS to stop being used as a political weapon,” she said. “The left can see enough about his finances with the FEC reports he filed for the campaign.”
President Trump has done a great deal for the Tea Party, and given the persistent resistance the president faces, it is remarkable he has achieved as much as he has. Even so, Trump has a great deal more to do, especially when it comes to cutting spending and addressing the national debt.
After ten years, the Tea Party has come a long way. Yet as Democrats seemingly rush to embrace socialism, it still has a long way to go. As activists rally against socialism on Monday, they are reigniting this historic grassroots conservative movement.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.