The organization stands by three core values, including “fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets,” according to its website.
His motivation for bringing the movement to Penn is to “enhance the diversity of opinion” on campus, as well as to expose students to “alternate views … that are very foreign to their experiences.”
In a CBS News/Chronicle of Higher Education/UWire poll conducted right before the 2008 election, 81 percent of Penn students said they supported then-Democratic candidate Barack Obama, compared to 17 percent in support of then-Republican candidate John McCain.
However, Chinburg said the Tea Party movement is “united around a common economic message” and is not aligned with any political party.
He said he will spend the remainder of this semester, and some of summer “trying to develop the step-by-step explanation of the Tea Party movement for the college audience.”
Chinburg — a former intern for the Democratic Committee of Montgomery County — has been in contact with representatives from Penn’s College Republicans, but emphasized that those involved in the Tea Party club’s events should come as “individuals, not Republicans.”
Penn Democrats President and College sophomore Emma Ellman-Golan criticized the movement as “uninformed.”
“I think the Tea Party activists represent a brand of politics where people are using fear tactics instead of the facts,” she said, adding, “I’m not worried because I don’t think people will pay any attention.”
Chinburg, however, referred to public opinion polls that show that a high percentage of the tea party consists of “college-educated people and generally informed people.”
“It hasn’t been proven that tea partiers are less knowledgeable or ill-informed,” he said.
Chinburg hopes to create a positive reaction to the movement, although it is “very foreign and doesn’t fit the perspective [students have] been told the Tea Party should look like,” he said.
According to Chinburg, the group’s platform is “seen as not very hip or cool.”
He admitted advocating a message that comedian Jon Stewart routinely “mocks” may pose difficulties.
“I really hope that people will react with interest rather than derision,” he added.
But although Chinburg, whose peers have nicknamed him “Mr. Capitalism,” used to laugh at such pop culture parodies, he finds the serious message behind these jokes to be “very profound, very elegant, very intelligent.”
“It’ll be rather difficult,” he said of founding a Tea Party branch on campus, “but I want Penn students to prove me wrong.”
And with a confidence in students’ “love of objective proof and quest for real knowledge, ... I think that Penn students will rise to the challenge,” he added.
Penn’s branch of Tea Party will be part of a new initiative organized by Chinburg and the Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots, called SPRINT, or Students Providing Real Information Needed Today. The program intends to raise awareness of economic issues among college students by providing resources such as fact sheets and pamphlets, as well as networking opportunities for students interested in getting involved in the movement.
While the Penn branch of the movement is still in its planning stage, Chinburg said he hopes to eventually organize debate panels and bring in guest speakers, including local business owners, to talk about their experiences. He hopes to recruit about 30 members over the course of the next few months before he graduates in August.Comments powered by Disqus
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