Regarding the rise of the Tea Party: Barack Obama was elected president in the wake of the failed Bush-Cheney administration. Belligerent Tea Party rallies erupted two months after Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
The Tea Party’s origins show that many groups challenged the legitimacy of the 2008 election (“Obama stole it”), and demanding the impeachment of the new president.
Photos from Tea Party rallies show virtually all-white crowds. Their rhetoric was often violent and abusive, including placards: “WARNING: If (Mass. Sen. Scott) Brown can’t stop it (Obamacare), a Browning Can,” with a silhouetted black pistol; or a donkey with a Hitler-mustached Obama emerging from the animal’s rear end. These are a tiny few of a cascade of hateful examples from the Tea Party, many documented in these pages by columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.
At worst, the IRS was inappropriate in its investigative procedures of Tea Party nonprofit applications. The real issue is that these overtly political groups wanted tax exemption to spread misinformation, conspiracy theories and hate. They do not promote “social welfare,” nor are they “devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes,” criteria for 501(c)(4) status. Investigate away, IRS!