The consensus among economists is that had the U.S. government and Federal Reserve not propped up the markets, a global depression would likely have ensued. Yet Dupont and others profess an unshakable belief in the power of the free market. To them, government intervention makes crises only worse. They argue runaway government spending threatens America's future.
Tea Partiers say Santelli spoke to a deep-seated anger among conservatives who felt betrayed by the Republican politicians they had believed in. Many want big government spending programs like social security scrapped.
"Social security is socialism," said Jim Chase, 80, a retiree on social security, who is a member of the Ludington Tea Party. "If we don't stop all this spending, we won't have anything left for our grandchildren."
Chase said he would rather have a system where Americans were able to invest their social security payments themselves, an idea not unlike President Bush's proposal to privatize social security. So when Santelli let rip, fiscal conservatives were eager to answer the call.
"It wasn't like all of a sudden we woke up and said we need a Tea Party," said Amy Kremer, 49, one of the founders of the Atlanta Tea Party. "This came after years of rumblings through the conservative world. The fuel was already there and he (Santelli) just lit the fuse."
A small group of conservatives on Twitter instantly took up the Tea Party theme and in a conference call on February 20 they planned tea parties for the following week. On Friday February 27, 2009, a total of 48 tea parties were held around the country and coordinators estimated turnout at 35,000 people.