« Begala: April 15th should be 'Patriot's Day' |
Blog Home Page
| NBC reality show: Hush money to Blago? »
April 15, 2009
Tea Party Reports: South Carolina, Wyoming, Chicago, and more
Joseph Finlay writes:
Along with six co-workers, I went to the Tea Party rally at the steps of the South Carolina State House in Columbia, SC. As many of you probably know, Governor Mark Sanford has been a state and national lightning rod for refusing stimulus money on principle.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the gathering was the sign, signs "everywhere a sign!" "Stop Trickle Up Poverty," "Stop Socialism," "Stop the Somali and Washington Pirates," "No More Bailouts," and countless pithy maxims summing up the present state of affairs. Many people were decked out in Revolutionary-era garb and props!
There were no discernible counter demonstrators other than the obligatory college student or two yelling from a passing car. Police presence was visible but not dramatic or pronounced. Local news estimates so far put the crowd at around 1500-2000, although we in the crowd were guessing at least 3000 as the grounds, and State House steps were a throng of humanity.
The crowd was spirited and gave thundering applause to Sen. (R) Jim DeMint, who spoke about his concern over the direction of Washington and his desire to return the country to small government principles as outlined in the US Constitution. Sen. DeMint then turned the podium over Gov. Mark Sanford, who received an enthusiastic welcome and applause for his principled, yet unpopular stance on receiving bailout money.
Many people that I spoke with indicated that this was the first type of activism or public demonstration in which he or she had taken part. Once could sense the palpable frustration among the crowd regarding the current state of affairs, but at the same time hope and vocal, vibrant enthusiasm about today representing a small step toward reaffirming the greatness of the Republic as envisioned by the Founders.
Jeanette Colville writes:
The Cheyenne Cowboy Tea Party gave me goose bumps. Very inspiring to say the least. Thought you'd get a kick out of a few pics. No faux Grecian columns here! haha
There's another tea party this p.m. at 5. They did not allow the speakers to stand on the steps where people could see them, but it was very peaceful - no ACORN egg throwers.. a testimony maybe to the blessed civility of this small city and its people who hold traditional American values so dear to their heart.
Richard Baehr writes from Chicago:
It was bigger than I expected (3000-5000), and very high spirited. No anger to speak of. People were in a party mood -- smiling at each other, noting other people's signs. Everyone acted like they were among friends for a change.
Some of the folks walking around with megaphones were very funny. Almost all signs related to debt, spending, and taxes. There were a small number for odd causes (end the Federal Reserve had some fans)
It looked like a Blackhawks crowd (very few suits). Quite a few young families with their kids. Lots of ron paul signs. There were a few quiet counter protestors (American Friends Service Committee) against military spending.
It certainly looked like a grass roots effort -- home made written signs outnumbered printed ones by about 100 to 1. Lots of media -- networks, and independent media. I was interviewed by two of the latter.
The crowd was not all white, though 95% would be my guess. Nobody seemed to care much about the speeches.
Pictures from Stanley Beavers of Atlanta:
C. Edmund Wright reports from Raleigh, NC:
The crowd filled the area at the Capitol that had been fenced off for the event and were kind of spilling over around the edges of the Capitol grounds. I would say 5000 or so. Very loud. Very funny signs. Very little attention being paid to speeches, but a lot of attention was paid to the passers by in cars. Many of the motorists were giving thumbs up to the party goers. I would say it was an intense atmosphere that was mostly happy but there is some righteous anger that is easy to detect.
A lot of kids had signs imploring the government to stop spending their money. I will see how badly the media downplays it. (I just about got sick watching Democrat strategist Bob Shrum -- who has never won an election -- downplaying the whole thing to Larry Kudlow.)
Rosslyn Smith writes from North Carolina:
The Asheville NC Tea Party was held outside the Asheville City Hall and Buncombe County Courthouse starting at 4:30 pm.
There attendees ranged from men in conservative business suits to workmen in uniforms to college aged girls with multiple facial piercings. Many people brought their children. There were more hand lettered signs than preprinted ones, several large historic flags such as the Gadsen flag and even a few people in Revolutionary era costume. The number of signs in evidence was especially impressive as it was a very windy day. Party goers complained in a good natured fashion that after a few minutes their hands would cramp from the effort of keeping their sign under control. The crows was pleasant. Not even a counter demonstrator passing out leaflets attempting to show that well over 50% of the Federal budget went to support the military, including a long quote from Barney Frank, could raise people's ire.
The very liberal local media is reporting hundred of people attended. My estimate is upward of 1,200. The street in front of the complex was already jammed with people when I arrived right at 4:30. Some people stopped by immediately after work and left after a half hour while others were still arriving at 5:30. There were several speakers and the crowd was interested. Unfortunately the speakers had to compete with a large nearby construction project, a blustery wind that made sound carrying in funny ways and a city rule that prohibited the use of anything other than a hand held megaphone. A common crowd chant after the conclusion of a speech was We the People! We the People!.
A couple of local elected officials were in the crowd but the organizers made it clear that it was not a partisan event. One of the politicians said he had also attended the tea party in Franklin North Carolina earlier in the day and that maybe 200 people had been there.
Those selling Asheville Tea Party Tee Shirts to help cover the cost of the event were kept busy. The original plan was to have volunteers with sign in sheets take down names and e-mail addresses, but the turnout was too heavy and swamped the effort to do so. I moved around the event and didn't see anyone with a clipboard gathering names until after the National anthem had been sung as the finale and the crowd was beginning to disperse.
Throughout the event and for well over half an hour after the last speaker was finished, a smaller group of supporters stood a couple of hundred feet away, lining a main arterial street in and out of the downtown area to let those driving by know what was happening. A great many drivers honked their horns in support.
Bob Myer writes:
Yesterday evening, I decided to drive the hour to Dallas so that I could take part in the Tea Party. I am nearly 40 years old and had never taken part in a protest of any type. I’m not really the “protesting” type – there is, I think, a stereotype protestor, one who screams slogans (mostly cheesy rhymes) and carries signs printed by organizations which the protestor is largely, and pitifully, ignorant of. The group I joined outside of Dallas City Hall was not the stereotypical bunch.
Most folks who had signs which they had obviously made themselves. There were not, as far as I could tell, any mass produced signs, though there were t-shirts aplenty. “Don’t Tread On Me” shirts were ubiquitous, and I must admit to seeking out the stand which sold them. I never did find it. Some folks even had “Right Wing Extremist” shirts, the product of a little quick, industrious work by some local shirt screener. There were also no cheesy slogans; no bullhorn-lead chants. While most people stood, there were lots of people with lawn chairs; about a third of the crowd were sitting and listening to the speakers. In fact, most of the crowd was listening to the speakers.
Outside of Mark Davis, a local radio host, I did not recognize most of the speakers. Some were from politically active groups, which is to be expected. But not one elected official was up to speak. The logic being, I suppose, that the electorate hears elected officials all of the time; this was a time for them to hear the electorate, the “regular” folks. One speaker was a mother of two (if I remember correctly) who talked about the decisions she made to work hard instead of joining the welfare rolls. Her story met with great applause, which was to be expected, given the crowd and its purpose.
One thing which one might not expect, though I certainly did, was that this was no partisan gathering. Republicans were skewered along with Democrats. Indeed, even Texas native President George W. Bush was derided for his big government approach, in particular the bail-outs and No Child Left Behind.
And that is one thing that folks who just dropped by or drove by might not understand, and perhaps something that the media chooses to not understand. This rally was not, in my mind, against all taxation. It was anti big government. The most tangible symptoms of big government (so far) are various taxes. It is a bridge too far to believe that the recent federal mega-spending spree will not, at some point, result in much higher taxes for everyone, not just the supposed “rich”. What’s more, as the federal government doles out money created from the ether, a growing number of people realize that the strings attached to that money are quite real, quite entangling. The more states and localities are bound though largesse to the federal government, the more the electorate will find itself limited in its freedom. Restrictions, constraints roll downhill.
People are beginning to understand that, and they are growing uncomfortable. Many are realizing that their tax dollars are funding the very policies and practices which limit their freedom. There is nothing partisan about it. Or perhaps there is, but not under the Democrat / Republican rubric under which we all supposedly fall.
Bob Myer blogs at http://www.mindofflapjack.blogspot.com/