The Movement

The Movement
by Ben McGrath
Spring brought the founding of the Tea Party Patriots, a centralized Web destination for decentralized malcontents, and the start of Glenn Beck’s side gig as a social organizer, through his 9.12 Project. The numbers nine and twelve referred to a checklist of principles and values, but their greater significance lay in the allusion to September 11th. “The day after America was attacked, we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties,” the project’s mission statement read. “We want to get everyone thinking like it is September 12, 2001, again.” The chosen values were inarguable: things like honesty and hope and courage. Only two of the principles (“I believe in God and He is the center of my life”; “I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable”) indicated any kind of political agenda. Inclusiveness was the point.

As spring passed into summer, the scores at local Tea Party gatherings turned to hundreds, and then thousands, collecting along the way footloose Ron Paul supporters, goldbugs, evangelicals, Atlas Shruggers, militiamen, strict Constitutionalists, swine-flu skeptics, scattered 9/11 “truthers,” neo-“Birchers,” and, of course, “birthers”—those who remained convinced that the President was a Muslim double agent born in Kenya. “We’ll meet back here in six months,” Beck had said in March, and when September 12th arrived even the truest of believers were surprised by the apparent strength of the new movement, as measured by the throngs who made the pilgrimage to the Capitol for a Taxpayer March on Washington, swarming the Mall with signs reading “ ‘1984’ Is Not an Instruction Manual” and “The Zoo Has an African Lion and the White House Has a Lyin’ African!”

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/02/01/100201fa_fact_mcgrath?currentPage=3#ixzz0e9edXgPY

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