The first of the modern Tea Party protests took place in 2007. It was a combined event, both a protest against the excessive spending of George W. Bush and a campaign event of presidential candidate Ron Paul. Throughout 2008 more of these combined events occurred.
This is important to remember, because while the current state of the Tea Party movement is such to cause many libertarians and other freedom lovers to be a little cautious of the current Tea Party protests, especially those that emphasize the pseudo-patriotism of the current military misadventures in the Middle East, especially the Tea Party Express AstroTurf movement, the history is still noble.
Currently progressive and liberal critics of the Tea Party movement like to ask the question where the protesters were before February 2009. This is asked in order to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the protesters by highlighting how they didn’t protest spending under Bush. This allegedly shows that the protests aren’t based on spending but either on partisanship or on alleged (but never proven) racism.
It is true that after the election many people joined the movement who were not in it previously. It is true that many of these late-comers could have their concern described as partisan instead of fiscal, but certainly not all of them. The same can be said about the reduced attendance in anti-war protests since January 2009.
The history of the Tea Party protests is also forgotten by members of the Republican Party trying to absorb the Tea Party protests with false promises of “enemy of my enemy” and “lesser of two evils” who do not want to recall the true origin of the protests. To acknowledge where the protests came from is to acknowledge the dirty secret of Republican fiscal irresponsibility and to lose the audience they wish to capture.
History is inconvenient, and thus forgotten.