Juan Williams: The Truth about the Tea Party

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The Tea Party movement: Those who aren't a part of it aren't sure what to make of it.

It's not a traditional political party as it doesn't have the structure of the Republican National Committee or Democratic National Committee or even a dedicated funding stream.

Some Americans have said that the signs and rhetoric at Tea Party rallies are racially and otherwise offensive. However, event organizers like Ron Miller, executive director of Regular Folks United, insist they've never heard the racist rhetoric.

"If you are an advocate of liberty, if you are an advocate of limited government, if you are an advocate of fiscal responsibility you are welcome at the Tea Party and there is no racial litmus test," he said.

Instead of focusing on the fringe, Miller and other activists say lawmakers need to recognize the Tea Party represents real, mainstream Americans who are unhappy with the size and direction of government.

"It's time to remind them that government should be working for us, we should not have to work for the government," Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said.

Tea Party activists have sent tens of thousands of people to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers. But many have gone home feeling like they weren't heard or even taken seriously. Activists say that's what's fueling their anger.

"There is danger for Democrats in recent attempts to dismiss the Tea Party movement as violent racists deserving of contempt," NPR analyst and Fox News contributor Juan William wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal article.

"Demonizing these folks may energize the Democrats' left-wing base," he said. "But it is a big turnoff to voters who have problems with the Democratic agenda that have nothing to do with racism."

However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who aren't listening should beware.

"Our job is to get conservatives elected and sometimes that means replacing a bad Republican with somebody that actually believes in the principles of limited government," Matt Kibbe, president of Freedom Works, said.

With seven months left until the mid-term elections, Tea Partiers say men and women seeking elected office will marginalize them at their own peril.

Juan Williams appeared on Thursday's edition of The 700 Club to talk about why Democratic lawmakers shouldn't be too quick to marginalize the Tea Party as a group of "right-wing kooks." Click play to watch the interview.

Also, Phil Kerpen with Americans for Prosperity appeared on the CBN Newschannel's morning program to discuss the impact of the Tea Party. Click here to watch that interview.

*Originally published April 15, 2010.

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