Proponents of the Women’s March and other protests that have broken out in various city centers and airport terminals across the country often compare themselves to the Tea Party movement.
There is some truth to the comparison. Both groups rallied large crowds in public places. Both delivered political messages through speeches, chanting and signs.
But the differences between the two are far more important.
The Tea Party was a grass-roots movement that coalesced around a specific concern — namely, obscene government spending, high taxes, skyrocketing federal debt and overregulation. In principle, it was not a political campaign for or against any particular candidate or party, though supporting free-market candidates did come into play later. I witnessed someone rocking a Sarah Palin shirt joining with someone in a Ron Paul shirt. The Tea Party’s message was unified and unifying. Republicans, Libertarians and some Democrats, old and young, men and women, came together to voice their concerns. College students concerned with generational theft were joined by entrepreneurs fighting to keep their businesses open and grandparents concerned with their retirement savings and grandchildren’s futures. The Tea Party was truly a big tent with a diversity of individuals focused on one core issue.