Wednesday, April 15, 2009
It’s a Beautiful Day for a Tea Party
Instead of a trip to the gym today, my workout buddy and I drove into downtown Denver to check out the Tea Party.
For some pictures and some commentary, check out the extended entry. This is your slow connection warning: lots of images ahead.
Update: Thanks to Jeff for the link. Drop by there since he’s also updating regularly with links to other reports (now with extra nuance). And while we’re at it, wow. Wow. And then a little more of her. Leave Obama alone!
And for people curious about other states and localities, here’s the site for you.
The first couple we met--who were leaving the party about the time we showed up--were beaming. While I have no documentary evidence and wouldn’t claim to know, they estimated that the party had pulled in a few thousand people disgusted with government excesses.
One of the marked differences from the anti-Bush protests that I’ve been to was that the crowd, while passionate, couldn’t much be called angry. It was a bunch of people who believe that their government should be accountable to the people, but who didn’t seem ready to launch into armed rebellion, regardless of what the Department of Homeland Security might imagine. His sign, for those who can’t read it, says:
Note to Media and Homeland Security
Here is what you want to see:
An EXTREMEly friendly citizen who thinks he has a RIGHT to speak and decided to WING it with this sign protesting OUT OF CONTROL spending.
Of course, protests bring some interesting folks whose message might be hard to divine (and who might give the DHS fits with their happy fun revolutionary masks).
And some folks who thought this was an anti-abortion protest. Which it wasn’t.
What it was was enlightening, though. The speakers and the people that we talked to wanted to be sure that people understood that this was no Republican movement. Although conservatives certainly outnumbered others, there were libertarians, Ron Paul supporters, and even a few Obama supporters who felt betrayed by the direction his government has gone. And while the media and detractors seem to think that the protests are purely about taxes, the truth is that the protest is about the size and direction of government--taxes are merely a symptom of a much larger malady.
Not that there wasn’t a strong anti-tax sentiment; there was and rightfully so. While President Obama may still make noises about having given the majority of Americans a tax cut, the fact is that taxes and fees are rising across the country and that while I was disgusted by the deficit spending under the last administration, I’m absolutely staggered by how quickly government has grown under our current president.
And so are a wide range of Americans from the left, right, center, and fringe--the Tea Party is an undeniably grass roots movement. For all of detractors talks of astroturfing, the truth is that there isn’t a George Soros backing this up. These are just folks who think that our country is headed in the wrong direction--a feeling championed by protesters as recently as last year when it came to the choices Bush was making as president.
The difference is that this is no longer their protest. They got their candidate, they got their shot, and they’ve watched it fall apart in the first few months of his tenure--not because he’s a Democrat, but because he is devoted to the same harmful policies that helped us get into this mess. Only, perhaps, twice as devoted as anyone else since Carter, and that’s pretty damned devoted.
The truth is that there is a popular movement starting that may or may not have long lasting consequences. Cars were driving by and honking horns almost constantly, people were still walking up as we were walking away, and there wasn’t a single giant puppet on stilts guy to keep everyone entertained.
Some folks will still dismiss it as silly or a waste of time (and, honestly, I don’t know if it will have meaning beyond this current season of disgust), those voices are the same people who just last year were applauding the war protests (with their impressive surplus of giant puppet on stilts guys). It isn’t that these protests might be meaningless that bugs them, it’s the fact that these protests might be just as meaningful as anything in which they took part. They don’t fear the failure of the movement, they fear that a successful movement will stall their plans for Obama’s Newer and Bigger Deal.
There isn’t much for the Department of Homeland Security to fear, though, unless a couple fans of V for Vendetta seem particularly worrisome. Which they don’t.
This movement is about holding government officials from every party, at every level, accountable for their actions. It’s a demand for fiscal responsibility from representatives who have failed us for too long.
And, mostly, it’s about letting them know that the people are paying attention. These folks aren’t grabbing for their rifles, but they’re definitely eyeing that next ballot and wondering just who it is that they’ll be needing to usher out of office.