From my personal experience at an early Tea Party protest, I can affirm that it initially began as an independent, largely decentralized protests against destructive, bi-partisan fiscal policies. In fact, not one attendee that I conversed with had anything positive to say about the Republican Party. The general sentiment was that fiscally they were barely above the Democrats and had to be held accountable. But, over time, a large segment of the movement were co-opted by the hierarchy of the Republican Party and the independent factions have been substantially weakened. Proof of this is the elevation of Sarah Palin within the organization, who during her tenure as governor was in no way fiscally conservative. In other words, I am not happy with the direction the movement has gone and no longer would consider partaking in a protest.
But, what I find interesting was the intense hostility, the "Teaphobia" that the movement generated since day one among large segments of the media and academic elite. I personally witnessed former CNN Reporter Susan Rosesgen express extreme bias and hostility during her interview with attendees, for which she was fired for. MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow have incessantly reviled the protesters. Commentators have chosen to focus on the most extreme, unrepresentative fringe members to defame the entire movement, which is intellectually dishonest and misleading.
I believe this is indicative that the protesters and social critics of the 1960's and their heirs, who have assumed leadership roles throughout government, media, academia and (to a lesser extent) business institutions are now the keepers of the status quo. And they have grown even more intolerant than their predecessors to challenges to their vision. In their pompous minds, their leadership, their policies are infused with so much truth and moral worth than anyone who would challenge them must be retrogrades or racists. Tied in with this is a strong element of classism and elitism; comments posted on Huffington Post are filled with hateful rants against "rednecks," "hillbillies" and "white trash." Many of those who chant the mantra of respect for diverse cultures show no tolerance for diversity within their own culture and country. This does not surprise me, because history is filled with countless examples of "champions of freedom" quickly becoming more intolerant than the regime that they just deposed. The Bolsheviks opposed the use of the death penalty in Czarist Russia, at least until they had seized power. Islamists promoted free speech in the Shah's Iran, but after seizing the reigns of power they quickly clamped down on all dissent. Mr. Matthews, in no way am I comparing you to Khomeini, but a little more tolerance for dissent and challenges to your sacred cows would be in order, especially for a so called journalist.