In his recent book, America the Beautiful
, Dr. Ben Carson draws a parallel between the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and the modern Tea Party movement that began in 2009:
In the days of the old [Boston] Tea Party, the British government and American Loyalists attempted to establish and maintain control of the colonies. When the Patriots first began to resist such efforts, those in power tended to deny that there was any real resistance from anyone except extremist, fringe individuals. Let's call this the denial phase. But as the protests became more prolific, denial was no longer tenable, and the powers that be decided to ignore the movement. Their hope was that if they paid no attention to the protestors, it would be less likely that others would join them and the movement would simply fade away. Let's call this the ignore phase. Unfortunately for those in control, ignoring the movement did nothing to lessen its intensity and, in fact, gave it time to grow even more powerful. The colonists ended up inflicting significant damage on those in power, forcing them to fight back, in many cases, with more force than necessary. Many of the regulations subsequently imposed were a part of this punative phase. The more the established powers resisted, however, the more determined the colonists were to overcome that resistance. [Italics in original]
I believe this makes for a very good (and fair) comparison; and especially the part about how the Tea Partiers of the late eighteenth century were portrayed by their detractors as mere "extremist, fringe individuals."