Motivated by the federal financial give-aways of the past year, tens of thousands of citizens across the country spontaneously converged outside of shopping malls and in front of government buildings to declare their opposition to the bailouts and stimulus package and preemptively rallying against the large tax increases that will follow to finance the massive doling of public dollars.
In suburban New Orleans, on what locals call the “neutral ground” outside of the Lakeside Shopping Centre, thousands of people of all ages, some using walkers while others were pushing strollers, assembled and waved homemade signs expressing their angst about Washington’s war on capitalism.
Now the 3,000 or so that showed up is remarkable as the Crescent City has never been much of a protest town, even during the turbulent sixties as residents save their mass gatherings for Mardi Gras parades, Jazz Fest and church fairs.
Add to that Republicans are hardly protest-oriented folks, though it would be presumptuous to assume that those in attendance were Republican activists. For the most part, they weren’t.
After walking around the throng, I did not see many familiar faces on turf that would be occupied by no more than a few dozen people waving campaign placards on a major election day. And it was apparent that the hastily organized event drew far more people than its coordinators anticipated.
There was no stage and the modest sound-system was drowned out by the generator that supplied its power. With all due respect to the elected officials who attempted to preach to the choir, their speeches did not matter; what was significant was that so many people chose to be on hand on their own volition and not because they were bussed, recruited or paid to attend.
There weren’t right wing extremists; these were grandparents, college students and middle-class families that had the audacity to publicly express their disagreement with the direction America is going down.
Though mocked and disrespected by the media in the coarsest of terms, the networks were obliged to give the legions of non-professional protestors coverage, communicating to those who quietly harbor reservations about the wisdom of America erratically spending itself out of a situation that was caused by fiscal mismanagement that they are not alone and it is okay not to hand Obama & Co. a blank check.
There is a difference between wanting America to fail and wanting Obama to fail in transforming the America into a western European nanny-state.
So where do the TEA Party people go from here?
July 4th is slated to be the next national tax protest day though as it is a holiday when people vacation, a better rally day would be September 17th, Constitution Day. In addition to being a day when people would be in their own town, having a such an event on that day would reemphasize the importance of our nation’s governing document and how far the federal government has grown, sometimes by “extra-constitutional” means, at great expense to the taxpayers.
As for doing something beyond chanting and venting, TEA Party participants should make a point of getting involved by personally communicating to their congressional representatives their opposition to the Obama economic agenda and hold accountable those who shackled generations of unborn Americans with thirteen-figures of debt just in the past twelve months.
Something else they can do is become Republicans…not for the sake of expanding party registration rolls but by keeping…scratch that…MAKING the GOP honest.
Someone in state government who watched the Baton Rouge TEA Party from his office window wondered aloud where were all of these people in November 2008. I replied by asking where was the candidate who shared their feelings on the bailouts?
He wasn’t there so neither were they.
John McCain lost his only chance of winning the presidency by toeing the line with his Democratic opponent on the virtue of pumping billions of dollars in banks and industries that teetered on collapse not because of capitalism but due to government pressure to make bad investments in the former and past decisions by the domestic auto industry to avoid competing with foreign automakers in quality that doomed their future.
As the Democratic Party is beyond salvage, people who want to reduce spending and stop the inevitable taxing to follow must ensure the GOP leadership consists of people who genuinely sympathize with the aims of the TEA Party participants and are not simply latter-day converts of convenience.
Opposing the renomination of Republican US Senators that supported the stimulus package would be a good start to show we mean business.
Contrary to the wisdom of GOP Beltway operatives, the American people need their tax dollars protected more than the party needs a handful of unreliable caucus votes.
Though President Obama will in no way be deterred from implementing his big government program by the rallies, the gatherings should be considered a success.
If a reborn Republican Party emerges from the muck of 2008 and succeeds in bringing change for the better to Washington in 2012, that crusade’s roots could be traced not to any strategy conceived at the Republican National Committee headquarters but to the crowded public squares across the country on April 15, 2009 where the party got a little piece of its soul and some of its lost credibility back. The misguided federal policies that would make Thomas Jefferson weep in sorrow was met with the passionate protests of citizens that would make the author of the Declaration of Independence cry tears of joy.