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September 13, 2009
Debate over protest numbers masks the historic nature of the event
The battle over numbers who attended the protests at the Capitol continues today. ABC News actually had the temerity to publish the laughable estimate of 70,000 per Russell Goldman's piece on their website from yesterday. Stacy McCain relayed an estimate from Freedomworks of 450,000. Others were estimating anywhere from 200,000 to 2 million turned out to protest.
But I believe these guesstimates are missing the point. No matter how you slice it, yesterday's outpouring was historic in nature; the first, genuine conservative grass roots protest movement in American history.
My PJ Media column discusses this phenomenon:
What makes today's massive turnout around the country so significant is that it is the first truly conservative mass movement in American history. The amorphousness of conservatism until the 1950s probably had something to do with that. Conservatism prior to then was rather clubby and its "leaders" had very little interest in developing a mass movement like labor, socialists, or communists were attempting to do. Even the candidacies of Goldwater and Reagan were more party-oriented than ideological in nature, although there is little doubt that conservative activists learned how to organize an effective movement by being involved in both those races.
I think it unfair for the media or the left to characterize this movement as "Republican." The fact that GOP politicians are seeking to hijack the movement for their own purposes should tell you that they themselves feel the separation and are drooling over the prospect of tapping the enthusiasm, the anger, and the commitment of the protestors for electoral gain.
It is definitely an opposition movement, however. Certainly there is mass unhappiness with President Obama and his policies. And there is opposition to the Democrats in Congress. But does this really translate into electoral strength for Republicans? I am going to go out on a limb and say no. The anger here is a reaction (reactionary?) against a growing government, higher taxes, and the sense that the country that they grew up in is slipping away right before their eyes.
It took the presidency of Barack Obama to energize conservatives enough to pull them out of their comfortable existence and set their feet a-marching to Washington.
I have additional thoughts on this and on where this movement is going on my own site this morning.