The largest and most impactful grassroots political movement, at least since the civil rights movement and perhaps in all of American history, originated in the minds and efforts of less than a dozen Americans.
By this time, the message of our movement was being refined and polished, comprised mostly of three universal themes that were and continue to be both constructive and broadly popular with the American people: First, the federal government has grown too big and its taxes vastly too excessive. Second, the sovereignty of the United States—in controlling its borders, in developing its national security and foreign policies, and in other matters-- must be defended at all costs. And third, that the U.S. Constitution was a document containing absolute truths to which government needed to adhere if it was to avoid lawlessness, chaos and an erosion of its foundational liberties.
One of those leaders was Chicago-based Eric Odom, who has been an ongoing national Tea Party force--and a friend. Odom had been a part of the first Tea Party organizing calls and influential in the development of the successful April 15, 2009 Tea Party rally in Chicago. In fall 2010, from Las Vegas, Odom and I poured ourselves into the final days Nevada State Senator Sharron Angle's U.S. Senate campaign in hopes of replacing the Obama administration’s strongest Senate ally, Harry Reid. As the movement’s prominence (and the associated strategic questions facing it) evolved, I found Odom one of the movement's most constructive leaders. We visited together for strategic discussions in Chicago. And on my home turf of Philadelphia, I invited Odom to join me in addressing a large and important pre-election Tea Party rally held on the iconic grounds of Independence Hall in front of the very building where 56 founders of our nation pledged with a “firm reliance of the protection of divine providence,” their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” to remove imperial British forces and rule and establish a self-governed nation rooted in liberty and the rule of law.
But together Odom and I also helped each other laugh off the obsessive, unjustified and inaccurate politically-motivated criticism we endured by organizations supported by billionaire liberal George Soros and others whose agenda has been to mortally wound our movement. Some of it bordered on the outrageous. In May 2011, for instance, Odom and I were leading a highly confidential national Tea Party strategic leadership call when Lizz Winstead, creator of Comedy Central's Daily Show, and liberal comedian Elon James White crashed our call after call details, secured codes and other information were leaked or surreptitiously obtained by a still unknown source.
Since that first February 2009 conference call, the founding and ongoing development of the historic Tea Party movement is comprised of many intriguing personal stories, and a singular collective story. Along the way, we have done many things well (removing Pelosi and then Reid as Speaker and Majority Leader, respectively), strengthening the Republican Party as a party that stands more than before for conservative principles expressed (but too often ignored) in the GOP platform, and we also quickly obliterated the 2008 progressive political culture that maintained that Obama was a man who singularly held the answers for the nation. Time has proven his ideas were not at all innovative and were actually just a rewording of those from the liberal playbook of more government and more taxes. In all these ways, since those February 2009 planning calls, the national Tea Party movement has exceeded the accomplishments of the effective and well-constructed 2008 Obama for America campaign that ultimately propelled Obama to the presidency.
With a reliance on divine providence again, let’s roll back this utterly destructive, unconstitutional government and welcome in a century or more of strong liberty leadership. Next step: We must explain our Tea Party vision and solutions for America.