The third phase of the Tea Party movement will kick off this weekend in Phoenix, at the first annual Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit. Thousands of activists from across America will descend on the Grand Canyon state to get educated about the issues, and discuss exactly what they want congress to do moving forward.
The Tea Party's short lifespan has thus far been defined by two phases, the first being "protest and rally", the second "electoral," according to national Tea Party Patriots coordinator Mark Meckler.
The third phase will focus on education and discussion, which will begin at the Arizona rally Friday. "With more than 3,000 affiliated organizations across the country, this summit will be an important opportunity for Tea Party Patriots to come together to celebrate and recommit to the ideals and values that are responsible for the dramatic victories in the November election," said another national coordinator, Jenny Beth Martin, in a press release Thursday.
In addition to speeches from presidential hopefuls like former Governor Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and businessman Herman Cain, attendees will be exposed to the Tea Party Patriots 40 year plan, and their "Five Pathways to Liberty," which are: education, politics, judicial, economics, and culture. "We want them to understand the policy initiatives that will move us down those pathways," Meckler tells FOX News.
This American Policy Summit comes as the Tea Party tries to maintain the momentum they had throughout the 2010 election. During that cycle, they propelled relatively unknown candidates such as Mike Lee in Utah, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, onto ballots with mixed results. Critics maintain candidates like this are largely unprepared for national office due to their lack of experience. But coordinators at this weekend's festivities ignore all the haters and say they have 15 million supporters nationwide, all ready to have their voices heard in 2012.
Peter Doocy is currently a Washington D.C.-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2009 as a general assignment reporter based in the New York bureau.