Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tea Party Politics Commentary by Robert Tracinski

The best gauge of the political impact of the tea party movement is the hysterical, evasive reaction of the left-leaning political establishment. The Mark Steyn article linked to and excerpted below describes the refusal of big newspapers to cover the event, as well as Barack Obama's preposterous claim not to be aware of them, and Nancy Pelosi's assertion that they are "Astroturf," i.e., fake grassroots manufactured by yet another Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

When I hear things like this, I don't get angry; I burst out laughing. These people are blinding themselves to what is really going on, and they aren't going to know what hit them.

Meanwhile, here are a few more reports from TIA Daily readers on their experiences with local tea party protests. Howard Jenkins writes:

I attended the tea party in Wilmington, NC, on April 15 expecting 100 people to
show up, but over 1,000 people attended! Most impressively, it was not a
gathering of an organized group of activists protesting one idea like abortion,
war, animal rights, or even taxation. This was a group of spontaneous
individuals, truly grassroots, who each brought their own ideas on posters—Stop
Spending, Taxed Enough Already, Atlas is Shrugging, Don't Tread On Me, Protect
My Child's Future, Read the Constitution, Vote All the Bums Out, etc. The common
theme was dissatisfaction with our government's growing power, not just

And I believe this sentiment is bigger than we realize. The
gathering was 5-7 PM at Wilmington's busiest intersection. I was astounded by
the overwhelming, enthusiastic response by the drivers and passengers who honked
their horns and gave us a thumbs-up as they passed by.
I really believe the American people have wanted to speak out against growing government and have now found a way to do it. Tax Day, April 15, will never be the same! There is no
question in my mind there will be more events like this. Next time I am not only
bringing an "Atlas is Shrugging" sign, but I am encouraging many of my
like-minded friends to attend. I believe many others will be doing the same.

Charlotte Cushman writes:

My husband suggested I write and tell you what happened at the tea party in St.
Paul [Minnesota]. Here is what I emailed friends a few days later:
All my life I have watched our country deteriorate. Now I feel energized. Americans are
starting to wake up.
The turn out in St. Paul was great. The media said 2,000 but there were more. The crowd was animated and responded frequently to the speakers. There were a few people walking around with "Who is John Galt?"
T-shirts. People came up to us and asked about Atlas Shrugged or said they had
or were going to read it. There were signs quoting Thomas Jefferson and Thomas
There was a sea of signs and they were all good. Some good ones were:
"Next time read the bill." "Give me liberty, not debt." "End global warming,
stop breathing." "Save the earth, save the trees, quit printing money." "Work
without compensation is slavery." "Socialism sucks."
Our next rally is on May 2nd. We Objectivists will be there with our T-shirts and signs and a table
with flyers and information.

Scott Clarke reports from Oregon:

I attended one of 20-odd tea parties in this liberal state, driving 120 miles to
the one in Salem, held on the steps of the capitol building. My guess at
attendance was 500 or so, but the estimate reported in the news was 1,000-2,000.
This was obviously grass-roots. Just-plain-folks, well-mannered and upbeat,
mostly Republican, conservative, or right-leaning. Some religious-right. Lots of
signs, no opposition infiltrators, one TV news truck (never saw a reporter). Not
very well organized: The sound system was shaky, a minister turned the opening
prayer into a rambling sermon, and 3-4 politicians spoke, moderated by a local
talk show guy. They said the right things, but mostly negative against taxes and
big government and Obama socialism. Some articulation of broad positive ideas:
Individual rights, capitalism, freedom (many signs addressed them, too). My
thought was [the politicians] ought to be listening: Not speaking, pretending to
be leading the parade, or trying to tell us what we're thinking.
Overall it was fun and interesting and felt right to be there. First time at this sort of
thing for me, and for most of the others I would guess. I will go again on
Memorial Day, the Fourth, or whenever the next wave happens.

Fred Johnson adds:

In their wildest dreams, who would have imagined that a placard bearing a photo
of Ayn Rand would have appeared in a nationwide rally (in a Chicago
demonstration aired on Fox) comprised of those on the left and the right
opposing monstrous taxes and big government?

What I find most interesting about this last observation is that I'm pretty sure the person holding up that poster of Ayn Rand was a fellow TIA Daily subscriber. Injecting Ayn Rand's name and ideas into these protests—and even her face—is by far the most effective use of our efforts. The tea parties bring the motivated opponents of statism together in one place, providing a receptive audience that is open to learn more about the moral and ideological foundations of capitalism and a free society.

In that regard, I was happy to hear from several readers who have participated in Jeffrey Small's campaign to send copies of Atlas Shrugged to politicians. David Hall writes:

Just bought four copies of Atlas Shrugged: two for my senators, one for my rep,
and one for Obama. I spent 20 years in the Navy. I'll buy another copy for Chief
of Naval Operations, Admiral Mullen. Thanks for the info about Jeffrey Small's

I should note that if you follow the link to the website for the campaign, there is good information on the best places to buy copies of Atlas at a low price.
As I wrote before, "the purpose of this campaign is not so much that politicians will read Atlas and see the light. They are, after all, politicians. The immediate political purpose is to send a message about the depth and strength of resistance to socialism in America, striking fear into the hearts of congressional statists and emboldening congressional defenders of free markets."
The statists are still attempting to evade the message of the tea parties. They're going to need as many reminders as we can come up with.

"Tea Party Animals Not Boiling Over," Mark Steyn, Orange County Register, April

To Paul Krugman of The New York Times, the tea party is a movement of
"crazy people" manipulated by sinister "right-wing billionaires." To the briefly
famous Susan Roesgen of CNN, the parties are not safe for "family viewing."
Which is presumably why the Boston Globe forbore to cover them last week. The
original Boston Tea Party was so-called because it took place at Boston Harbor,
which I gather is a harbor somewhere in the general vicinity of the Greater
Boston area. So there would appear to be what I believe the journalism
professors call a "local angle" to Wednesday's re-enactment….
Asked about
the tea parties, President Barack Obama responded that he was not aware of
them…. Talk-show host Michael Graham spoke to one attendee at the 2009 Boston
Tea Party who remarked of the press embargo: "If Obama had been the king of
England, the Globe wouldn't have covered the American Revolution."…
But 95
percent of the rest [of government spending] is not just "special interests" but
social engineering—a $400 tax credit for falling into line with Barack Obama and
Susan Roesgen. That's why these are Tea Parties—because the heart of the matter
is the same question posed two-and-a-third centuries ago: are Americans subjects
or citizens? If the latter, then a benign sovereign should not be determining
"your interests" and then announcing that he's giving you a "tax credit" as your
pocket money.

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