Tea Party Aftermath

Posted on April 16, 2009


One day after the historic and widespread Tea Parties across this nation, a lot of folks are struggling to understand what happened and where we go from here. By some estimates, close to 250,000 people in 800 cities took part in the peaceful rallies in support of personal and fiscal responsibility and against the expansion of government power. (A running tally at RedState has a total of 309,000 and counting.)

The left sneered at such protests, saying they were tiny gatherings of old white right-wingers upset that a black man was President. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s hard to get that truth, though, when much of the national media ignored the event, and when they did spend time on it, made much use of lame and vulgar “teabagging” sexual humor or allowed their correspondents to berate rally-goers as “anti-CNN.” (Judging by ratings, it seems most of America is anti-CNN.) Meanwhile, Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky derided the rallies as “despicable” and “shameful”, clearly missing the point of the events.

It’s too bad, because a lot of people outside the hallowed halls of intellectual power got it. It’s the reason Fox’s ratings skyrocketed over the Tea Party coverage as the only network to take the rallies seriously (although, contrary to urban legend, they were not responsible for sponsoring them).

To me, the rallies demonstrate a deep-seated unease among a significant portion of the American populace with the ever-growing size, cost, and power of government. The anger, at least at the Dayton rally, was truly directed at both parties – spending and the debt was bad under Bush, but just increased at a slower pace until the TARP boondoggle.

What the rallies accomplished is impossible to determine in the short term. Those determined to ignore their message and label them as fringe rallies won’t ever be convinced no matter if 2,500, 25,000, or 25 million attended. And, though I hope it isn’t the case, it could be that all the emotion was spent yesterday and nothing comes of it.

But what I do think is some kind of movement has indeed begun. Everyone stressed yesterday to extend the activism beyond April 15th and carry it forward to spread facts and the truth about taxes, the economy, the government, and our own personal responsibility. But in another sense, I think it was important for some on the right to come together after taking so much abuse as a group, being labelled “losers” and accused of having dwindling influence as a consequence of the last two election cycles. It’s why it’s heartening to see that so many others believe likewise in acting positively to enact a smaller and more responsible government, believing all the while in the resourcefulness of the American people and the greatness of the United States. I would urge those still skeptical of the effectiveness of the Tea Parties to consider that they are only a plot on a line that stretches from now into the future, and how we act from here will ultimately determine what they meant in the grand scheme of American history.

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