Nashville gets its own Tea Party branch

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 4:46pm

Nearly three years after a wave of anti-federal government sentiment spawned a national movement, Tea Party groups in Tennessee are still popping up.

The latest is the Nashville Tea Party, launched earlier this month, marking the first Tea Party organization to use Tennessee’s capital city in its title.

Ben Cunningham, who heads the Nashville-based Tennessee Tax Revolt, is the lead founder of the Nashville Tea Party, which made its entry into the local political scene through social media, adopting Twitter and Facebook pages in recent weeks.

“We’re just in the very formative stages,” Cunningham told The City Paper Tuesday. “So, we don’t have a whole lot we can say about the structure. We’ll have many more details coming out over the next few weeks and months.”

The new group’s website,, lists three core values: “limited constitutional government, fiscal responsibility and free markets.”

Cunningham, known best for his 2006 petition drive allowing Nashvillians to vote on future property tax increases, said Nashville Tea Party would announce members of its advisory board at a later time. The plan is to make inroads in Metro government, which has received little attention from Tea Party activists.

“We will be focusing on issues related to Metro government and the [Metro] Council,” Cunningham said.

The Nashville Tea Party’s formation also comes four months before Tennessee’s Republican presidential primary in March, and predates state legislative races in November 2012.

According to a list found on the Tennessee Tea Party’s website, nearly 70 Tea Party groups have formed in Tennessee since February 2009, when CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered a now-legendary rant, recognized as the launching point for the conservative Tea Party movement.

In Nashville, the Tea Party’s most recent foray into politics came in the form of a fall rally for Gibson Guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz following the federal raid of his company for allegedly importing illegal wood. Cunningham alluded to the Gibson protest as a driving force behind the Nashville Tea Party.

“Really, the impetus for the formation was the need to have a legal entity to conduct rallies and events like the Gibson rally,” Cunningham said. “We didn’t have a good entity that we could use for events like that.

“There are also some projects that just don’t naturally fit into the Tennessee Tax Revolt sphere that we’re going to be involved with,” he added.

Though the group “is still putting the nuts and bolts together,” as Cunningham says, the Nashville Tea Party has already garnered attention from some area liberals.

Chris Sanders, an organizer of the gay rights organization Tennessee Equality Project, released a YouTube video Tuesday in which he said he expects the Nashville Party to “take a slightly different approach and tone” than the Tennessee Tea Party. He said he believes the new group will focus less on social issues.

The Tennessee Tea Party was roundly criticized in November for how the organization weighed in on the resignation of Massachusetts U.S Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat who is openly gay. “Good riddance you perverted sodomite POS!!,” the Tennessee Tea Party wrote on its Twitter account.

“Only time will tell how they will get involved, but I would expect a different tone coming out of this group than we’ve seen from the Tennessee Tea Party,” Sanders said. “As with any group of citizens that gets engaged, I wish them well.”

25 Comments on this post:

By: Gary Lampman on 12/27/11 at 6:22

It doesn't surprise me that the Kock Brothers and other Multi Millionaires have been benefactors of the Tea Stained Party that has no social agenda other than to Hand out Money and favors to Large Corporations. Often off the backs off the backs of the Poor and Middle Class.
Matter of Fact, Many of these dillusionable Tea Baggers are poor and Middle class as well.Really........ Yes Really! I have asked many of them why they are so hell bent on chewing off their own limbs to give to multi- Millionaires and corporations greater handouts as they cut their own throats destroying all social programs. The answers are varied but most believe that giving up these proven programs to hand it to Corporations will save their jobs. However, those jobs are being filled overseas and NOT the United States.!
I don't know if they are stupid or just idiots! Talking about accountability and deregulation. Ask the Banks! Deregulation placed us in recession. We the working class have taken the brunt of tea party bull. The Wealthy have not and so I would consider their self serving narrow minded values as that of Domestic Terrorist !

By: Loner on 12/27/11 at 9:27

Another tempest in a teapot? More scab-labor-loving environmental scofflaws blowing off steam? More testifying tea-baggers for Jesus? More gun-toting, right-to-lifers, Darwin deniers and Armageddon expediters?

A toxic tea is brewing in Tennessee....they call it Caustic Comment.....enjoy!

By: TITAN1 on 12/28/11 at 5:45

Darwin deniers? You just lost.

By: JeF64 on 12/28/11 at 6:13

They should just get real and call themselves the K Street Party.
At least they'd be honest (for once).

By: Ummm... on 12/28/11 at 7:11

Let's all extend a hearty welcome to the Nashville Tea Party. After all, without them what would the jingoists, homophobes, assault weapons owners, closet racists, drug pushing big pharma execs, environment poisoning polluters and insurance company thieves have to do with their spare time?

By: govskeptic on 12/28/11 at 8:18

It appears the "Occupy Nashville" group are the earliest posters on
this story. It's amazing how the liberals attempt to paint this totally
grassroots and mostly unorganized group, but like minded citizens,
into their evil stepbrothers/sisters! Opposition is such a pest.

By: TITAN1 on 12/28/11 at 9:12

Ummm, do you always lump people together? Are you really that lazy?

By: Nitzche on 12/28/11 at 9:22

oohh, I strive for the day to be this smart, don't see it happening though, these comments are WAY over my head. So original, takes my breath away!!

By: bfra on 12/28/11 at 9:23

Lazy is not understanding the subject and asking a dumb question?

By: Left-of-Local on 12/28/11 at 9:41

Oh goodie. Maybe they can protest taxes on some tax-funded sidewalks and stuff. Or find some brown people to persecute.

Xenophobic fools.

By: TITAN1 on 12/28/11 at 9:46

bfra, my questions were not dumb, but since they offended you..............

By: frodo on 12/28/11 at 9:53

Prejudicial bigotry on display here. And just a few weeks ago Loner and Lampman were singing the praises of freedom of speech and public right to protest.

By: spooky24 on 12/28/11 at 10:00

I will agree social issues will not be the focus of the group. Ben Nelson's retirement and take over of the Senate-now much more likely-is the National Party's main concern. Local branches are focusing on tax policy -property taxes being on the forefront.


By: Radix on 12/28/11 at 10:24

Wow, look at all the hate and intolerance in these comments. Every word hypocritical.

If I am supposedly a homophobe, what does this make all these commenters, because they are obviously scared of something... balanced budgets? lower taxes? constitutional government? Terrifying....

Liberalism is a fundamentally flawed and unsustainable system. It will eventually collapse on itself, but its human nature to be greedy, so we dance with it again and again... I'm glad Tennessee is on the upswing. I wish we could stop liberals from reinventing the (broken) wheel over and over. So much wasted time and effort.

By: TRHJR on 12/28/11 at 11:32

lampman first , get your grubby hands out of MY pocket .. second YOU ARE A LIAR ? if you have a problem with this ... give me a call you liar !!!!!

By: lusksavage on 12/28/11 at 12:03

Einstien62, First to are mistaking conservatism for liberlism. Liberlism tries to spread the wealth around to keep the machine running. Conservatism is a tiny part of the population controlling all of the wealth. No gas for the machine. That would be economic engine.
And just what Tennessee needs, more conservative extremists pushing their nazi agenda.

By: waycool1 on 12/28/11 at 2:51

Politics is nothing more than mind control & after looking at the posts here; it is proven. Libs Need Cons. Its like Ying & Yang. They need each other to survive.
They keep the masses angry at each other, not where the anger needs to be directed & that is at "THEM"!!!!!

By: frodo on 12/28/11 at 4:08

And I suppose waycool1 is above it all...neither con nor baby bear's bed...just perfect. Oh, except he/she also whips up anger.

Lusksavage, I am a conservative, albeit probably not precisely by your definition, as I am not wealthy. I am definitely not a Nazi or a Fascist. The definition of fascism sounds much more like the current White House crowd than any president in our history. You really need to stop fanning the flames with ill-informed name-calling.

By: Southern Beale on 12/29/11 at 6:06

Read somewhere that the "Nashville" Tea Party is actually HQ'd in Sumner County. Which is about typical for the Tea Party, isn't it? Everything they do is a misrepresentation.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/29/11 at 9:03

Nashville should be proud to have it's own Tea Party A.K.A. The Klu Klux Klan party. LOL.

By: thdanoman on 12/29/11 at 10:59

Wow! We have some haters in the hood. Such vapid and incindiary remarks that some of you liberals are making scare me. You call the Tea Partiers every name in the book but I bet you praise your Occupy Nashville protesters. Nashville is changing politically. Evident from the most recent elections. Sorry that you "Good Ol Boys" are so upset. I'm glad that we have our own organization now. I've never joined one but will be joining this one. Have a blessed day my liberal friends, and that is from the heart.

By: Radix on 12/29/11 at 12:35


Your view is incomplete. Time for a little come to Jesus. Liberals in a nutshell are people who want to control things they had no part in creating. Money is just the currency of production. Helping society progress (infrastructure, medicine, science just to name a few) take HARD WORK. Money is the reward and motivation for that hard work. LIBERALS like you, want to take the reward from those who have done the work, and give it evenly to those who haven't.

Imagine you have two kids, and you say to them "whoever helps me take the trash out will get two cookies" one helps and one doesn't, and you decide under the guise of 'fairness' that the cookies should be split, and each one gets one. The next time you need help with taking the trash out, are you going to get it? Probably not.

So our society where 'everyone gets a trophy' is now reaping what it has sown, with people like you, who think people should have equal wealth regardless of their contribution, and then expect those contributing to keep it up.

You assume that if you take Exxon's money away, that they will just make more. It won't happen. Our economy is currently in a slump exactly because of this. The wealthy are holding on to what they have an not investing in business and jobs, because the current business climate is so unfriendly because of Obama's redistributionist tendencies.

All that said, I am not completely anti-regulation, we must protect the environment and also for the economy to stay productive, we have to encourage large corporations and unions alike from anti-competitive practices. Our economy does best when businesses and people compete, saying 'I can do it faster/better/cheaper' Unions prevent this, and so do monopolies in both big businesses and government.

To sum up, Conservative tenants include, competition, hard work and incentive. Liberals stand for the opposite, yet somehow think the economy they enjoy will still thrive. Do you think Steve Jobs and his employees would have relentlessly worked to build incredible groundbreaking products if they weren't allowed to keep the fruits of their labor? That is part of what the framers had in mind with our constitution, and this is what the Tea Party is all about.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/29/11 at 4:12

The Tea Party is just a new name for the KKK.

By: TITAN1 on 12/30/11 at 8:37

NewYorker1 = spam artist.

By: Nitzche on 1/1/12 at 4:04

wake me up when these edward R. murrow;s are through.....zzzzzzzzzzz