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April 15, 2009
Tea Parties across America
The number of protests is open to some dispute but there are at least 812 as of now according to the PJTV site where citizen reporters will be calling in stories and downloading pics and video of the events. This clearinghouse website puts the number over 1000.
It doesn't matter. At this point, there is no denying the success of the effort. And Glenn Reynolds puts the movement in perspective:
There's good news and bad news in this phenomenon for establishment politicians. The good news for Republicans is that, while the Republican Party flounders in its response to the Obama presidency and its programs, millions of Americans are getting organized on their own. The bad news is that those Americans, despite their opposition to President Obama's policies, aren't especially friendly to the GOP. When Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked to speak at the Chicago tea party, his request was politely refused by the organizers: "With regards to stage time, we respectfully must inform Chairman Steele that RNC officials are welcome to participate in the rally itself, but we prefer to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in Government as well as political parties. This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around."
Likewise, I spoke to an organizer for the Knoxville tea party who said that no "professional politicians" were going to be allowed to speak, and he made a big point of saying that the protest wasn't an anti-Obama protest, it was an anti-establishment protest. I've heard similar things from tea-party organizers in other cities, too. Though critics will probably try to write the tea parties off as partisan publicity stunts, they're really a post-partisan expression of outrage.
Bill Whittle writing at Pajamas Media has an inspiring take:
Anyone with any fundamental understanding of the United States Constitution, and the process by which it was negotiated, shouted over and eventually ratified, would tell you of the horror and shock that would confront every single one of them if they were to see what we have become: a gigantic, ever-growing welfare state that breeds resentment and dependency, perpetuated by a ruling oligarchy of 535 congressmen, 9 Justices, a president, vice-president and cabinet that contain people with three, or four, or five decades away from the people they represent and who function as an imperial aristocracy - because they are.
If you are feeling dismay and astonishment at what has happened to our Country, can you not find some way to take an hour or two from your busy schedule and attend one of these tea party events? Yes, I know it's a lot of trouble. I know it's hard to get out of work, tough to drive to the location, hassle with parking, and all of that. You probably don't have a sign prepared and you don't need one. You can make a hundred solid excuses why it's damn near impossible for you to go, and I am sympathetic to all of it...
These men signed a document knowing that was their death sentence, should their ramshackle collection of farmers and brewers and smiths fail to prevail against the most powerful military force the world had ever seen. A death sentence. They did that, not because they craved money, or social position, or political power - as with all revolutions before or since. Most of them had that in abundance. This was a risk they took not to gain everything, but to lose it.
They did it because they believed that men should be free: free from the petty tyrannies of other people telling you what to do for your own good. They risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for you. If we cannot take two hours out of work to repay that debt, then we deserve everything that is coming to us.
The spirit that animated our ancestors to carve a civilization out of primeval forests and blow up mountains in order to connect our union would be proud today. The faced the future with confidence and so should we. There is nothing - nothing that Americans can't accomplish if they believe it possible. We've proved it time and again. And we will prove it today.