Robert Welch, Jr. (12/01/1899 – 1/06/1985) – Founded 1st”Tea Party.”
The John Birch Society was started in 1958 by Robert Welch, Jr. (the handsome devil pictured above) and had dozens of chapters nationwide. It is not the direct antecedent of lunatic-fringe rightwing groups such as the Tea Party and Club for Growth, but the similarities are manifold and there are strong family connections. One of the original 12 members of the John Birch Society (as well as its principal bankroller) was a fellow named Fred C. Koch, founder of Koch Industries and the father of Charles and David Koch. That’s Fred, below, reading to his two young sons.
Hatred of all government and taxes, overt racism, extreme anti-immigrant attitudes, and a conspiratorial bent that makes the Birthers and 9/11 Hoaxters look like Voltaire and his colleagues in the Enlightenment… those were America’s John Birchers.
They lost power in practical politics when prominent Republicans such as William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater called them on their shit … but don’t hold your breath over that happening to the Tea Party anytime soon. Courage is in even shorter supply now (and shit in greater abundance) than during the McCarthy Era and early 1960s, the 1st Tea Party’s heyday.