TEA? “Taxed Enough, Already!” Atlanta’s Tax Day Tea Party

Posted: April 17, 2009 in Politics
Tags: , , ,

Being fairly new to politics, and being increasingly alarmed at the direction the “majority” seems determined to take things, I was excited to attend the Atlanta Tax Day Tea Party on April 15, 2009. This event, and those held in over 800 cities and towns across the nation, was intended to bring attention to the idea that there is absolutely no consensus on the actions taken by the federal government in the last few months, especially in regards to bailouts, “stimulus” spending, deficits, pork, taxes and our Federal government’s obvious efforts to push the country away from capitalist free markets towards socialism. Media imbalance, legislative constitutionality and fiscal responsibility were also topics of great concern, judging by the amateur signage and speeches.

15,000-20,000 protesters fill the streets outside the GA state capitol

15,000-20,000 protesters fill the streets outside the GA state capitol

One look at the faces in the crowd and you knew this was not your typical political protest rally. The average age of the participants seemed to be around 55-65 years old. In addition to the grandparents, there were children, teens, college kids and mid-lifers all in evidence. It was as varied as a crowd at a state fair. And although most of the crowd was Caucasian, there were several Hispanic and Black people present – despite what some “news” outlets were reporting, I learned later. (Beware anyone who objects to something because of some perceived but otherwise completely fictitious racism. I did see one rebel flag at the rally, but the prevailing opinion was, “Why is that moron flying a rebel flag?”) There may have been some pro-Obama, pro-fascism counter-protests somewhere, but none that I could see. For many, it appeared to be their first foray into political demonstration of any kind. The crowd was obviously full of rookies.

My personal disclaimer – I loathe Sean Hannity. I don’t know who John Rich is. None of the speakers were familiar to me, with the exception of Dick Armey, who gave a logical, impassioned speech about how even Keynes would find the recent efforts of our President and Congress appalling. (And he looked great in that cowboy hat.) So there wasn’t much for me to see onstage. But I stuck around for the whole thing, because it was all still quite moving. No tea party anywhere was going to “accomplish” anything, but they were not (as some mainstream newsman put it) “silly and pointless” – the people who came were making a statement of unity and expressing their outrage. They were saying, “We don’t have all the answers tonight. But we know that these things are wrong, and nobody has been listening. 536 elected officials in D.C. have ignored us up until now – and will continue to do so at their own peril”

I learned the next day how outrageously biased the news coverage was on the tea parties. I think whatever small kernel of respect I had left for MSNBC after their abysmal coverage of the election was completely destroyed by their distasteful mockery of this honest, grass roots effort. Keith Olbermann used his broadcast to denigrate the protesters through double-entendre, suggestion and vulgarity. That was too much.

Despite the shrill claims of the Obama courtesans, there is no evidence that this was a “GOP funded and orchestrated” movement, and neither FOX nor the GOP ever had a valid claim to sponsorship. Homeschool moms, local bloggers, and Facebook links were not just the catalyst of most of the local events, but they were responsible for nearly everything that followed. FOX was admittedly enthusiastic in their coverage, but looking back and comparing the media’s saccharine accolades and embarrassing fawning that accompanied the Democrat National Convention and the inauguration, the FOX coverage was reserved, detached and actually informative. I’ve seen clips of the CNN coverage, and it was embarrassingly bad journalism – not worthy of a closed-circuit television class at a community college.

Being there was quite an experience. I parked 11 blocks and walked the rest. At 6:00 pm I was pretty close to the stage. By 9:15 most of the crowd had moved half a block away toward the Pajamas TV large screen where it was much easier to see and hear the goings on. This meant that no one could leave the area due to the crushing crowd at each end of the block, but ironically also caused a large section of the street very close to the stage to almost completely empty out. You couldn’t see anything from there, and the sound was horrible. I was able to take a cell phone call in this relatively quiet middle ground – and got to speak to my friends at the Libertarian Dime in time for their podcast.

Our phone interview ended around 10:00, just as the event began to break up. It was time for the long, somewhat frightening walk back to the car. I think the 15,000-20,000 people who attended in Atlanta made their point. I guess nation-wide it was near a million. It’s encouraging to see so many people come to something like that. I think it means that our public servants (that’s what they are – don’t let their arrogance or apparent power fool you) in Congress will have to consider their actions even when an ineffective, Republican minority is unable to halt their excesses. And don’t imagine the Republicans are ignorant of the meaning of the tea parties, either. I think that for any political lifer, this kind of spontaneous activism is a huge wake-up call. Or it ought to be, anyway.

This is encouraging for the libertarian. The protesters understand that big government is a threat to freedom. Our Constitution is in jeopardy and requires defense. Personal responsibility is preferable to a nanny state. Federal efforts at “social justice” are either misguided altruism or outright fraud. So although most of the protesters would probably identify themselves as Republicans or conservatives, the concepts that make them active are those that are most effectively aligned with libertarian ideas and ideals.

To borrow a (much over-quoted) phrase from Rahm Emanuel, the Libertarian Party should not let this crisis go to waste. There’s an enormous opportunity to score some points with people who are thinking about these things – some for the first time in their lives.

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