Initially, I saw it as an astro-turf movement, nationally coordinated and heavily promoted (and in some cases) funded by leading conservative media groups and pundits, and leading rightwing public figures. I don't think it was any more "grass roots" than Code Pink. I also viewed them as incredibly rude and bellicose based on their behaviors at "town hall" type meetings where they brought in out-area people and made sure no one else's opinions could be heard over their own. Maybe that is too narrow a view - but those actions strongly colored my perception and still do. So...are the Tea Partiers the same group as they started out as? They seem more confusing then coherent. In fact, rather than one movement they seem to be many and not necessarily with the same agendas. As the movement coelesces with the aid of professional organizers, it seems to have split from one to many each claiming to be the official Tea Party group. Thus far their common traits seem to be: Oppose Obama regardless of what he does Oppose Big Government Wasteful spending Increased deficits and debt Oppose taxes Mostly white ethnicity (very little diversity) But that is where it ends. You have some groups taking on the stances and rhetoric of some of the more extremist views on anti-illegal immigration and nativism. You have some groups attracting the interest of White Supremacy movements. You have some groups taking on conservative social issues like abortion and religious values as part of their platform. You have Tea Party groups that are Palin supporters. So - if you tell people they don't know anything about Tea Partiers, maybe it's because there is no single "Tea Party" group representative of the movement. If you deride them for not knowing - then ask yourself which of the many incoherent messages being put forth represent the Tea Party?