WASHINGTON, D.C. — The rise of government spending, including Obamacare, was a key factor in the rise of the Tea Party in 2010. But where is the Tea Party today, and how much influence does it still have?
It's true that the big Tea Party rallies from years ago may be gone, but the Tea Party itself is not. Nowadays it takes different forms.
This week on Capitol Hill, hundreds of Tea Party patriots came to Washington to partner with Tea Party lawmakers. They're not happy with Republican leaders as they push Congress to make sure the GOP's Obamacare repeal and replacement plan gets done the way they think it should.
"If Republicans take this opportunity and blow it, we will be rightly considered a laughing stock," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said.
"The leadership in the House is weak-kneed and they are afraid to lead with freedom and capitalism. So they're giving you something that's half as much as Obamacare but doesn't fix the problems," said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
The Tea Party transition over the years has three different components.
First of all, most Tea Party groups are now trying to effect change at the local level.
The second component of change is taking place right here in Washington where the Tea Party stars of 2010 are now national power players in D.C.
Senators like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee were all powered into office by the Tea Party movement.
And Donald Trump's outsider, 'drain the swamp' image played well with Tea Partiers too. Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint is a card-carrying member of the original Tea Party.
"The two Republicans who came closest to winning the presidency were Cruz and Trump and those two were probably perceived as the most outsider-type category of people who are against Washington," DeMint said.
DeMint sees a third and final component to the Tea Party's new appearance.
They're looking a lot more like pro-Trump events, cloaked in good-old-fashioned patriotism.
The events are now called "Spirit of America rallies" and they're popping up all over America with a message: The Tea Party won't be silenced.
"We are that voice. We are that silent majority and we support Donald Trump," said Ralph King, founder of the Main Street Patriots.
"The Trump voters, a lot of those were Tea Party voters, evangelicals and they were kind of new Tea Party people coming out of blue-collar, Iron Belt America, union workers who were just tired of the baloney that Washington was giving them and they thought maybe Trump had the power to kick down some doors and make government work for them," DeMint said.
The Tea Party's door kicking days are not over at all, but the headlines today are all about those liberal protests at GOP town halls.
The mainstream media wants to compare this movement to the Tea Party. DeMint says it's night and day, arguing the Tea Party was organically motivated, unlike these current events.
"What you see with this group on the Left is it's well organized, well-financed. We've seen all of their manuals about what to do. A lot of it is George Soros-funded and an Obama-funded organization," DeMint said.
That liberal megaphone has deep pockets. And while the Tea Party's megaphone isn't rich financially, it is rich in spirit and fight, transforming right before our eyes.