Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Party Summary from the Ohio Objectivist Society

We at the Ohio Objectivist Society had a great time attending both the Canton and Cleveland tea parties. There were at least a thousand at the first, and at least twice that at the second. We brought about 60 copies of our booklet of reprinted essays, The Portable Objectivist, and 30 copies of Atlas Shrugged to hand out to interested individuals. I also made a few signs: “Ayn Rand Was Right” — “Atlas Will Shrug”; “Who is John Galt” — “Read Atlas Shrugged”; “Free the Market” — “$” [big green dollar sign].

First up was the Canton Tea Party. It had been raining all morning, but finally stopped when we arrived in Canton. It was still cold, and threatened rain all day. As soon as we got there, Matt, our executive director, started mingling in the crowd - he has a real knack for that. The rest of us walked around the perimeter, and it wasn’t long before we got a request from a local radio station - Ron Ponder’s show on WHBC 1480 AM - for a live interview. We rushed to get Matt, and he was live on the radio within minutes. He covered who we are, why we were there, what we stood for, how we were different from the rest, etc. Here is a photo of us holding up signs during the interview:

Matt went on mingling in the crowd, while we found a strategic high-traffic location, waiting for people to come to us. And they did! At least one in five people were drawn to the “Atlas Will Shrug”/”Ayn Rand Was Right” sign, and told us their stories about when they first read the book. Many were reading it now or had just finished it, but there were a few who read it over 40 or 50 years ago, and an even smaller minority who had read it several times, as well as the rest of Rand’s work. Several others took photos of our signs, or pointed and smiled.
The response to our signs was quite remarkable, and there were even multiple people who said, “nobody is going to get the reference.”
After the Canton event, we grabbed a bite to eat - steaks all ’round at the Longhorn Steakhouse, and mine was bacon-wrapped! We got to Cleveland early and took shelter at a local bar to talk about the Canton event and what to do differently for the Cleveland one. We decided that seeking people out was a better strategy, particularly because the crowd was expected to be larger.
At the Cleveland event, there were several other people with signs referencing Rand - several “Who is John Galt?”, some “Atlas Will Shrug”, and shirts with “John Galt 2012″ and “I am John Galt”. We made several laps around the crowd, and sought out such people to give them business cards and booklets, and let them know about our future meetups and other events. It was a real surprise to meet a self-professed Objectivist couple at the event; hopefully we’ll see them at a future meetup.

My favorite moment at the event was when a guy, who had brought his young son, said that he met his wife over Atlas Shrugged - they were both reading it at the same time. It was his favorite book, and he hoped his son could read it when he gets older. Thad immediately pulled out a copy from his bag, and the kid’s eyes lit up. We tried to limit our distribution to people who said they had heard about the book and wanted to read it. Everyone who got a copy was excited and couldn’t wait to read it.
In all, we handed out over 20 copies of Atlas Shrugged, over 40 copies of our booklet, and dozens of business cards. We got on a couple radio shows, one local TV news segment, and were interviewed by a small local newspaper, all to spread our name. And it’s working - the emails are already pouring in, with people interested in future meetups, book reviews, etc.
For Objectivists interested in attending future protests - such as the Independence Day Tea Party - the one thing we recommend is to bring a nice clear sign that mentions Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand. If you build it, they will come.

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