Do you ever feel like your beliefs are out of step with the rest of the nation?

Because of intense media bias, it’s hard to imagine the tea party movement represents the opinion of the vast majority of the American people.  Fortunately, though the media and politicians pretend otherwise, our beliefs are actually the predominant beliefs of the land.

Sixty percent of Americans now believe that government has “too much power.”  Only 32% believe that it has “the right amount.” (Gallup – 9/23/13)  At the beginning of the tea party movement in 2009, the number of people who believed the government was “too powerful” was 50% and “just right” was 42%.

This polling reflects the fundamental premise of the tea party movement; the government is too big, too powerful, and cannot be trusted.  What the media and politicians present as the opinion of the “radical” and “fringe” tea party, actually reflects the belief of a large majority of the American public.  It would more accurately be described as “common sense.”

Remember: currently only 22% of Americans consider themselves to be Republican and 31% consider themselves to be Democrats.  Independents come in at an astounding 45%.  Based on those numbers, apparently an awful lot of people who do not self identify as Republicans also think the government is “too powerful.”

That’s great news!  These numbers indicate a profound distrust of big government by the American people.  This distrust is not limited to any particular party, politician or ideology.  Instead, this is a philosophy firmly rooted at the core of our national consciousness.  A deeper look at the numbers shows us the further away government resides from the people, the less it’s trusted.

Only 42% of Americans say they trust the federal government – an all time low

We now express historically low levels of confidence in the federal government’s ability to handle domestic problems, with 42% reporting a great deal or a fair amount of confidence. This is one point below the previous low of 43% in 2011.

Again, an inherent distrust of the large federal government is fundamental tea party value.  Whether Americans “identify” with the tea party or not, tea party values and ideas about the size and scope of the federal government now reign supreme with general public.  Even if the media and politicians have had an impact on the public perception of the tea party itself, our ideas are growing in popularity.

Americans inherently trust local government.  Interestingly, this same governmental distrust does not apply to local governments.  Americans’ trust in their state and local governments has increased this year, with 74% expressing a great deal or fair amount of trust in local government and 65% in state government. Trust in state government has now essentially returned to levels seen before the financial crisis, after falling to as low as 51% in 2009.

This polling reflects support for an important underlying premise of tea party thinking: a strong belief in local self-governance.  Contrary to portrayals by politicians such as Sen. Harry Reid, tea partiers are not “anarchists,” but instead believe in the same values of the vast majority of Americans.  We believe we should govern ourselves, close to home.

Government, especially the too-large, too-powerful federal government, is out of touch with the American people.  Americans want a federal government that is smaller, and much less powerful in our lives than it is today.  When asked the important question, “who decides,” the vast majority of Americans answer, “we do.”

Or at least, “we should.”

Politicians, take note:  if you ignore the will of the American people, you will eventually pay the political price.  The American people are clear in poll after poll: tea party values are American values.


About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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  1. Brad warren

    Maybe it’s time to repeal the 17th amendment. If people trust state and local gov’ts then maybe it’s time to put senators back in their place being appointed by the state legislatures and not a general election. Our founders knew we would have this mess if they weren’t there to represent the states. That’s why there is only 2 from each state. It forces people to be involved at a state level which is by far an easier way to speak face to face with your state representative.


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