Thoughts on Reaction to Tea Party Protests

I would have liked to have checked out our Phoenix Tea Party the other day, but I had another event at the same time I could not miss.  I find the reaction to these protests kind of funny, especially from the left.  I get a sense that they feel like large protest rally's are their particular mileau, and are reacting as if someone has violated their copyright.

But I thought this type of reaction was especially telling:

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) blasted "tea party" protests yesterday, labeling the activities "despicable" and shameful."

"The "˜tea parties' being held today by groups of right-wing activists, and fueled by FOX News Channel, are an effort to mislead the public about the Obama economic plan that cuts taxes for 95 percent of Americans and creates 3.5 million jobs," Schakowsky said in a statement.

"It's despicable that right-wing Republicans would attempt to cheapen a significant, honorable moment of American history with a shameful political stunt," she added. "Not a single American household or business will be taxed at a higher rate this year. Made to look like a grassroots uprising, this is an Obama bashing party promoted by corporate interests, as well as Republican lobbyists and politicians."

I am not particularly surprised that an elected official would be upset at a populist movement to limit the power and scope of government.  In a real sense, these rallies are about limiting Schakowsky's power, so her opposition is to be expected.

HOWEVER, typically in the past American politicians of both parties would at least pay lip service to low taxes and individual freedom.  But apparently no longer.  What is scary to me is that politicians no longer seem to feel the need even to put lipstick on the pig.

  • Les

    It is rather unfortunate though that some of the more 'out-there' along he right-wing fringe have been attempting to hi-jack these tea parties for their own ends, going to rallies intended to protest miss-management by Both political parties so they can call Obama a Muslim and demand we turn the country 'back to God'.

    I'm particularly disgusted by attempts at some tea-parties of Republicans trying to ride the wave of discontent back into power, when they themselves long since abandoned their claim to being the party of 'small, sensible government' to try and hold onto power while they had it.

  • Polybius

    Where were the explosions? Lasers?

    Please. Tea.

    How about stealing half of your wealth when you die?

    Bring your guns next time.

  • I'm pretty tepid about the whole Tea Party thing. To have mass gatherings with signs and the occasional BBQ and compare it to an event where people were risking prison or worse is pretty lame. What's really fun, though, is the left's apoplectic reaction to the whole thing. The "journalists" are completely unhinged, throwing down cheap "teabagging" jokes and showing such naked vitriol towards the concept of people not gladly giving up their money to those able to spend it "smarter and better" than them. We often snark about what lapdogs the media are, but they dropped every last picogram of pretense here. Absolutely amazing.

  • I was at the Chicago tea party. What I noticed was that most of the speakers criticized both parties as well as Bush and Obama to the applause of the crowd. When the local DJ celebrity "Mancow" made some socially conservative comments they went over like a lead balloon. The crowd was there for economics. The crowd didn't contain a lot of anger, in fact it was often down right quite, not as riled and frenzied as some left wing protests that I have observed downtown. The speakers focused on the bailouts started by Bush and continued by Obama and also the proposed deficits under the new budget.
    It was an interesting crowd. I went with a former employer, behind us was a "skater" couple (for lack of a better description) and their pooch. To our left was a couple of suburban women and in front of us a couple of guys that looked like bankers. There were obviously veterans in the crowd also. It was a mostly white crowd, but not completely.

    The flag de jure was the Gadsden flag, followed by the Stars and Stripes.
    Afterwards, I told my brother that I thought the whole thing would likely fizzle out, but seeing the nerve it seems to have touched among those in congress and on the left; I could be easily encouraged to go again.

    btw, I heard about it from my old boss, who heard it word of mouth. I don't belong to any list - which is the fiction that's being pushed by the left.

  • Anders
  • Good post, thanks for the info.

  • John Dewey

    les: "I’m particularly disgusted by attempts at some tea-parties of Republicans trying to ride the wave of discontent back into power, when they themselves long since abandoned their claim to being the party of ’small, sensible government’ to try and hold onto power while they had it."

    Let's be very clear: not all Republican elected officials supported the growth in government of the past 8 years. There is no reason I can see to be disgusted with Republicans who consistently opposed expansion of government. Senators James Inhofe, James Demint, Jon Kyl, and Wayne Allard - to name a few - are recognized year in and year out by the National Taxpayers Union as among the strongest supporters of responsible tax and spending policies. So are Representatives Jeb Hensarling, Jeff Flake, Trent Franks, and Mike Pence.

    Would you consider, Les, doing a little research on specific Republicans who support these tea-parties before disparaging all members of this diverse party?

  • morganovich

    if one wishes to see behavior both despicable and shameful, they need look no further than mrs Schakowsky's own household. her husband, a lobbyist, was charged with 18 counts of tax fraud and 16 counts of bank fraud. after his conviction, a spokesman for his wife said something to the effect of this "not tarnishing the good name and honor of a good man".

    i don't know whether to be more offended by the moral cupidity of these politicians (though she's from chicago, so what do you expect?) or by their assumption that i am so stupid and have such a short memory that i will not notice...

  • Esox Lucius

    I got a personal call from someone about the tea party. They got my number because they were the remains of the Ron Paul campaign's local "meet-up" group. There were no republicans in that meet-up group, only past republicans that were disgusted with the party.

  • Totally agree with you Morganovich

  • Les

    I'm disgusted with the Republican Party (And Party Politics in general) and if there are in fact small-government Republicans out there who believe in dismantling the engine of power in Washington despite the trajectory their party has shown they should take a page out of Joe Lieberman's book and run Independent.

  • morganovich

    les-

    watch texas. their current governor is taking an incredibly strong federalist line and looking to use the supreme court to roll back federal government power. i really hope this catches on. could be just the issue for small government proponents to rally around.

  • M Heiss

    I was at the Gilbert, AZ tea party, and what I saw reinforced what ElamBend had to say. The speakers got big spontaneous applause when they talked about cutting the size of government and opposing socialism, but overtly Republican comments went unapplauded.

    Maybe part of that was that this was an "inexperienced" crowd -- we didn't quite know our cues for applause, because for most people, it was their first time at a protest. Also the speakers, especially the two organizers, were passionate but not professional event organizers -- they certainly were not stopping for applause at the end of every line.

    Our crowd was mostly businesspeople (judging by their clothes), families (many many moms with kids), retirees, and veterans. Lots and LOTS of flags. Great homemade signs, and very fun energy -- people were reading one another's signs and laughing and greeting one another. I heard one person note that we were "happies" not "hippies."

    I went primarily out of disgust for socialism and an understanding of what will happen to our standard of living if our state and town decide to raise taxes in response to a down economy. I was not alone. Everybody there seemed surprised to see so many others there -- there were about 1500 people, which is a big crowd for noon on a school day in Gilbert, AZ. Now, if we could just get some of them to show up at Town Council meetings, we might have a chance at halting spending.

    I'm not on any list, I heard about the tea party in Gilbert in just about the most low-tech way imaginable -- I drove by a small sign the week before. After the fact, I found out that several neighbors and friends had also been there, but we had not seen each other.

    I think it's hilarious that reporters and politicians are indignant about the tea parties. What, you think that media portrayals of Americans as hicks and hayseeds for 40 years, the vilifying of entrepreneurs, and active rooting for our defeat has gone unnoticed?

    At our house, we have canceled the cable tv, refused the newspaper subscriptions, and stopped all magazines except for hobbies. I don't choose to listen anymore to the put downs and propaganda.

  • John Dewey

    les: "they should take a page out of Joe Lieberman’s book and run Independent."

    First, Lieberman has long disagreed with fellow Democrats on many issues, and yet still continued to run as a Democrat. He only ran as an Independent after he lost the Democratic primary.

    Second, any member of either branch of Congress has far more influence on the direction of government when he/she works through the party machinery than through trying to work as an independent. "Making a principled stand" and defying a political party completely may sound noble to you, but it is actually a guarantee that an elected official has stopped influencing government on behalf of his constituents. It is just not a practical solution.

    I expect my elected representatives to do their best to represent the low tax, small government wishes of the people who elected him. But I am not so naive as to believe that means he can accomplish anything by refusing to compromise. I send him to Washington to get the best compromise possible.

  • tomw

    Quote:Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) blasted “tea party” protests yesterday, labeling the activities “despicable” and shameful.”

    If you have ever seen her on the tube, she is one bitter harpy, with a tongue sharper than a razor. Anything and everything done by anyone to the right of Norm Coleman for example[can't think right now of a lib - Oh!, Oh!, ->Arlen Specter!!!] is compared to the works of Atilla the Hun.
    Sour sour sour. Blech. I don't see how she is re-elected EVER, but then again, she's from Chicago where the motto is Vote early and often...
    tom

  • @John Dewey: In theory, compromise is a good idea. The problem is that the line keeps getting pushed back until we are were we are today. So I'll ask you what I ask the rest of the "realists" out there: Ummmm... how's that working for you?

  • That's not to say compromise is inherently evil or impossible. But at this point, the only thing the Republican Party stands for is hating gay people which isn't something I can get behind. What about the "real" isses? Low taxes? Nope. Small government? Nope. Secure borders and a sane immigration policy? Nope. Personal freedom? Nope. Personal responsibility? Nope. Corporate responsibility? Nope. Government transparency? Nope. And it's not like they're doing a bang-up job on national security either. Iraq is starting to clean up nicely, but Afghanistan is turning into a quagmire. Our intelligence services (by far the most important thing for preventing terrorist attacks and the resultant wars) are still a complete joke. But the Republican party's all happy as can be because they stopped gay people from getting married and wondering where all their support went.

  • ArtD0dger

    Large protest rallies ARE the left's particular milieu -- the greater part of their constituency simply does not suffer the kinds of opportunity costs it takes for the productive to attend these things. Legitimizing the notion of democracy-by-rally size plays squarely into the left's hands.

    Another problem I have with the tea party movement is their focus on taxation rather than spending. We here may know it's a sham, but the administration's defenders can still trot out the "95% of taxpayers will get a tax cut" line, and a large part of the public will wonder what the protesters are whining about.

    Still, I do support the movement generally. I read that some of the organizers refused to let local Republican office holders speak at their protests, which is a very smart move.

  • John Dewey

    EvilRedScandi: "In theory, compromise is a good idea. The problem is that the line keeps getting pushed back until we are were we are today."

    So what is the alternative for those conservative Repulicans such as the ones I listed above? If they did not compromise over the past 8 years, spending would have been far higher.

    It is the moderate Republicans who continually tip the balance to the liberals. Those moderate Republicans represent the fringe of the Party. Yet they exert influence way out of proportion to their numbers. Direct your anger toward them.

    The solution to ending the growth in government is to elect true conservatives such as Inhofe, demint, and Hensarling. Similar candidates ave been offerred across the nation. Yet voters refuse to elect them.

    EvilRedScandi: "the only thing the Republican Party stands for is hating gay people which isn’t something I can get behind."

    I don't think most of the Republicans who oppose gay marriage hate gay people. But most do have an opinion about what restrictions should be placed on what they believe to be a sacred institution. Wanting to restrict the legal definition of marriage is not the same thing as hating gay people.

  • Les

    John Dewey: "I don’t think most of the Republicans who oppose gay marriage hate gay people. But most do have an opinion about what restrictions should be placed on what they believe to be a sacred institution. Wanting to restrict the legal definition of marriage is not the same thing as hating gay people."

    Maybe they don't hate gay people as people, but it does seem to indicate a level of hostility toward their gayness. And how do you 'Legally Define' Marriage anyway? Is this or is this not about allowing people reguardless of gender preference to enter into civil unions with their prefered parners? If there is no problem with that, then why is there a problem with 'Gay Marriage'? Who enforces the law that says two guys or two girls in a civil union, "Hey-hey-hey Hey! You two are NOT Married, it sez so in the book, you're not allowed to Call yourselves Married so knock it off or.. or..."?

  • eliza

    This is a good conversation which seems to so rare. I am one of those dreaded centrists who finds myself bouncing around the internet, thinking the left and the right are a bunch of hysterical idiots. Why has the level of demagoguery come to this? There are good reasons to be concerned about the deficit, but I don't think the republicans have done anything but add to the problem, and the democrats if they try to do something will raise taxes. But whose fault is this? It isn't our representatives that are failing us it is us. We want all of our stuff and we don't want to pay for it.

  • Me

    Agree, EvilRedScandi: the republican party has lost all its credibility with me during the last 8 years. And it's not just that they didn't live up to what I had expected (I tend to have high expectations), they also reacted badly to two large scale crises, failing on national security and ruining the economy. That the democrats are doing what they are doing now is no surprise to me - but that Bush used the time he had in Office to make matters worse and that the entire party stood behind him is beyond me. Fail. We need a third party, badly.

    As far as the Tea parties as liberal rallying grounds go - the impression I got from the news was that it was precisely the people who got us into this predicament are now using the fact that there is a problem to argue that they ought to be back in power. On reflection, I could see how that impression might be wrong and I certainly hope it is, but that's what media coverage led me to believe.

    On a personal note, getting stuck in traffic for hours was specifically annoying because 4/15/2009 wasn't a good time to protest against the high taxation of the democrats, 2009 is still a republican tax year. Pick 4/16 to protest next years taxes instead? And don't hold up citizens wanting to get home by crossing a busy intersection with picketing signs repeatedly?

  • LoneSnark

    The budget for 2009 was written by congressional democrats and signed by Obama. Congress held off sending a budget to Bush last year because they wanted to wait and see who would win the election, and were not disappointed.

  • Me

    No doubt, LoneSnark - but the 2008 taxes are debts incurred and regulated under Republican rule. Just wait on how bad 2010 will be.

  • Nice article. What many elected people (and self-professes Liberals) failed to notice was widespread center- to center-right disgust with TARP last fall. As the bailouts and opacity of gov't spending increased in number and scope the reactions became stronger and the chance to express disgust at the way Congress (in total) was behaving drove the Tea Party movement. For me the most salient fact was Congress did not read the (so-called) stimulus bill. I still can't believe there is any place across the political spectrum that would support such foolishness. Let me repeat for the slow people out there: I cannot believe ANYONE would support the passing of huge spending bills that Congress did not read. There are always unintended consequences, and the potential for disaster increases with less transparency and more ignorance on our elected leaders' part.

  • John Dewey

    Les: "Who enforces the law that says two guys or two girls in a civil union, “Hey-hey-hey Hey! You two are NOT Married, it sez so in the book, you’re not allowed to Call yourselves Married so knock it off or.. or…”?

    Les, the "or .. or .." is what the controversy is all about. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed in 1996 with the support of almost all Republican and Democratic members of Congress. President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed the bill and made it the law of the U.S. Two most important provisions of DOMA:

    1. a same-sex marriage recognized in one state need not be considered a marriage in another state;

    2. the federal government cannot treat same-sex relationships as marriages, even if the relationship is recognized as a marriage by one or more states.

    As I understand it, DOMA has severe implications for homosexual relationships. Among the economic benefits conveyed by marriage, but not available nationwide to same sex couples are: social security survivor benefits; automatic inheritance in absence of a will; dissolution and divorce protections such as community property. Other key rights not available nationwide include: status as next-of-kin for making medical decisions; and joint adoption in some states.

    Those who support DOMA are overwhelmingly opposed to adoption of children by gays. This is the single issue which most unites oppostion to gay marriage.

    You or I may not agree with the provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act. But for right now, DOMA is the law of the nation. Democrats as well as Republicans made it so.

  • I can only speak for the one I attended, but at the Seattle protest, the focus was on spending, not taxes. In fact, one of the speakers explicitly stated, "This isn't about taxes; it's about spending."