The surprise story of the 2010 midterm elections was the Tea Party, both in Idaho and across the nation. If was as if the silent majority that former President Richard Nixon referenced awoke from a long winter’s nap and made its collective voice heard on Election Day.
But the party in Idaho has been less seen and not very vocal since. However, don’t be fooled, say some Idaho Tea Party folks. The surprise star of the 2010 election cycle is "just getting warmed up" and is growing "larger and stronger." Tea Party Boise is the largest such organization in Idaho and claims a membership of "about 3,500 people."
And its noted skill at getting out the vote on election day 2010 popped up again on the day of the Supreme Court decision on President Barack Obama's health care plan. Tea Party Boise held a protest that included a speaker reading the Declaration of Independence in full and then comparing President Barack Obama and the federal government to England's King George III. It also entered a float in Boise's Independence Day parade complete with a large group of marchers who carried flags and played patriotic songs on kazoos.
Chad Inman, the president of Tea Party Boise and a Republican candidate for the state Legislature, is bullish on the future of his organization. "We're currently upgrading our email server and closely coordinating our efforts with other organizations around the state. Our numbers are increasing and the Obamacare decision has led to a significant influx of new volunteers."
The Tea Party's latest venture is a "statewide confederation" called Gem State Tea Party, which currently claims ten member organizations including Tea Party Boise. Inman says this is part of the statewide coordination that was begun with the Idaho Liberty Summit in Challis last summer and will continue with the Idaho Liberty & Unity Summit being held at the Boise Center on the Grove Aug. 17-18.
The Tea Party plans to have its voice heard in local elections as well come November. According to Inman, candidate questionnaires will be sent out and endorsements made in the coming general election. "We intend to endorse those who support liberty and kick out those who are rattling the shackles of tyranny," he says. Tea Party Boise is also planning to host candidate forums closer to the election.
Kathy Harris, president of the Payette County Tea Party, sees the movement as fostering citizen involvement in the political process. "The Tea Party is about information, education and action. An informed citizen is an informed voter. Many people feel intimidated or disenfranchised by most government entities—city, county, state and federal—because it is challenging to know who to talk to, how to get a straight answer, how to get the proper action and what to do when you run into corruption.”
Harris adds that the Tea Party gives “citizens fed up with money leaving their wallets and seeing a bottomless pit with no return” an avenue to understand the process and become involved with like-minded voters. “The Tea Party provides the avenue for the everyday citizen, which is what America is made of, to become involved as a team player and to connect with re-establishing our political process so that it upholds the founding principles of our country.”
The cliché’ about learning to crawl before you can walk and walking before you can run applies to the young Tea Party movement, according to Harris. “Knowing about the candidates, voting, knowing the issues, keeping elected officials accountable are among the many starting places. It's like learning to walk, gaining confidence with each step."