I've been struggling to explain this political conundrum. The Minutemen were a group of largely conservative activists that rebeled against a government policy. The Minutemen were effectively marginalized by their opponents and turned into extremists and racists.
The Tea Parties were largely started for the same purpose. They were also demonized by their opponents with similar invectives.
Yet, the Minutemen were marginalized whereas the Tea Parties used the mockery of their opponents to their advantage. I'm still not exactly sure what the difference is in the dynamics of the two. My cohort, the Soccer Dad, had an interesting take. The Minutemen were largely rebeling against the Republican party they weren't seen as outsiders.
I also believe that in fact it turns out that fiscal conservatism is much less polarizing than illegal immigration. At the root of the Tea Party movement is fiscal conservatism. All other stances, strict constitutional adherence, government restraint, etc., are rooted in fiscal conservatism. Fiscal conservatism is a concept that crosses ideologies and demographics. The Tea Parties have found their issue.
In that way, they're very much in the mold of Saul Alinsky. Alinsky organized around concepts that would attract the maximum number of people: judicial reform, access to health care, equal access to education, access to housing, and access to healthy food. Those are concepts everyone would get behind. In the same way, the Tea Parties have gotten behind a broad message, fiscal conservatism, that everyone can get behind. That's why they've thrived whereas the Minutemen, pushing anti illegal immigration (a devisive message) did not.
Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"