If you thought 1994 was big, just wait

First, Washington is being revealed in a new way. The American people now know, “with real sophistication,” everything that happens in the capital. “I find a much more knowledgeable electorate, and it is a real-time response,” Ms. Blackburn says. “We hear about it even as the vote is taking place.” Voters come to rallies carrying research—”things they pulled off the Internet, forwarded emails,” copies of bills, roll-call votes. The Internet isn’t just a tool for organization and fund-raising, it has given citizens access to information they never had before. “The more they know,” Ms. Blackburn observes, “the less they like Washington.”

Second is the rise of women as a force. They “are the drivers in this election cycle,” Ms. Blackburn says. “Something is going on.” At tea-party events the past 18 months, she started to notice “60% of the crowd is women.” She tells of a political rally that drew thousands in Nashville, at the State Capitol plaza. She had brought her year-old grandson. When the mic was handed to her she was holding him. “I said, ‘How many of you are grandmothers?’ The hands! That was the moment I realized that the majority of the people at the political events now are women. I saw this in town halls in ’09—it was women showing up at my listening events, it was women talking about health care.”…

How does 2010 compare with 1994 in terms of historical significance? Ms. Blackburn says there’s an unnoted story there, too. Whereas 1994 was historic as a party victory, a shift in political power, this year feels more organic, more from-the-ground, and potentially deeper. She believes 2010 will mark “a philosophical shift,” the beginning of a change in national thinking regarding the role of the individual and the government. This “will be remembered as the year the American people said no” to the status quo. The people “do not trust” those who make the decisions far away. They want to restore balance.