Business, Finance & Economics

One of first Tea Party organizers bullish about organization's future

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Keli Carender is one of the first women to organize a protest to be considered part of the Tea Party movement. (Photo from a Carender video.)

This is an interview from To The Best of our Knowledge, part of a special series on the history of Democracy. The series includes interviews with Assange, former Czech President Vaclav Havel, the woman credited as the founder of the Tea Party and many others. Various of these interviews will be featured on PRI.org in the next month. Listen to the above audio for a conversation with Carender.

A few years ago, Keli Carender decided she wasn't going to remain quiet between elections any more.

The Seattle blogger and math teacher decided to get together a protest against the Democratic-backed stimulus bill. 

Today, that protest is considered one of the very first Tea Party protests and Carender, who blogs as Liberty Belle, is considered one of the founders of the tea party movement. 

"There were so many of us across the nation that never spoke out, never protested," she said. "These first few protests were these amazing moments of finding like-minded people."

Now, more than two years later, Carender is still active and trying to bring a fiscally conservative message to America. Carender, who affiliates herself with the Tea Party Patriots, said the movement really has three main goals:

  1. Fiscal responsibility
  2. Constitutionally limited government.
  3. Free markets

"It's very much an economic movement," she said.

She's still optimistic the movement has a bright and unlimited future. And that relentless economic focus is part of what's kept the organization from becoming more tightly integrated with the Republican Party.

Carender said that the Republican's social issues don't really matter to her, or her organization. She said social conversatives have several, well-established, well-funded organizations they can join.

"There wasn't really a movement or a group that dealt with these economic issues from our point of view," she said.

So the Tea Party was born.

Carender's goal is to diminish the power of Washington and bring power back to the states and to other governments closer to the people. For example, she'd like to take aim at the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education and at healthcare. 

"Maybe we scale it down to the size it really should be," she said.

At the core of this idea is the notion that citizens are better able to control and influence decisions made at the local level, by people who are often your neighbors, rathern than by professional politicians — as well as appointed leaders and bureaucrats — in Washington.

"We all have a much bigger voice, the closer the decision-making gets to the people," she said.

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"To the Best of Our Knowledge" is an audio magazine of ideas - two hours of smart, entertaining radio for people with curious minds. More "To the Best of Our Knowledge"

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