With an innate interest in politics and technology, Jenny Beth Martin was near the epicenter when the tea party began in 2009.
Martin now devotes nearly every waking moment to the powerful national movement as co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, which claims it represents over 3,000 tea party groups in all 50 states and has over 850,000 “friends” on Facebook. Last year, Time magazine placed Martin on its annual “Time 100” list of the 100 most influential people in the world for her role in a movement that has transformed the nation’s political debate by rallying Americans around three themes: fiscal responsibility, limited constitutional government and free markets.
Martin, who hails from Georgia and is married with twin daughters, is critical of both parties and the word “frustrated” comes up a lot when you speak with her. Even though the tea party is essentially a leaderless movement comprised of individual local activists, Martin is clearly connected to the heart of the movement and the many newly awakened Americans it has inspired to engage in politics.
Last week, The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas talked with Martin about the Occupy Wall Street movement, what she views as the biggest threats to America, her predictions for 2012 and the divisions emerging in the Republican Party.
Describe the tea party movement’s emergence
“The tea party movement started in its modern form when Rick Santelli, a commentator for CNBC, had a rant on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, and in the rant, he was complaining about the stimulus bill … and it really resonated with Americans across the country.”
Speaking as a tea party leader, what are the nation’s biggest threats?
“Watching the Democrats spend so much money that we become numb to the numbers. It’s hard for us to imagine what $16.7 trillion looks like.”
From a tea party perspective, what seems to be the problem with Washington, D.C.?
“There are some people in Washington who really do get the message, and there are a lot who don’t.”
Tell us how you were involved in starting this movement
“I’m kinda just a total geek. I like politics and technology, so those fit well for me.”
What are your observations on the Occupy Wall Street protests?
“The distinctions between Occupy Wall Street and the tea party movement are so vast that it really becomes insulting, the comparisons.”
What do you predict for the 2012 election?
“What I can say is that people around this country really want people elected to office who are going to adhere to our core values.”