I attended the DC Tea party today. I wish I had brought my camera as pictures of the signs being carried would really help you capture what the protesters are thinking.
Living outside of DC, I've been to many protests and gatherings on the Mall (Nixon's Reinauguration Protest, Marches for Life, Promise Keepers, 4th Of July Fireworks, etc.).
SIDENOTE: As a result of the President Bush / Republicans obvious corruption surrounding the financial crisis (and stupid wars and the Republican's porking out when they finally got in power rather than reforming anything), I am cured of being a “social conservative”. I'm more in the Bill Bonner all politicians are lying and self-serving camp right now. So I'm mostly trying to report to you what I saw and heard rather spin some particular political agenda.
UPDATE: I'm removing all crowd size estimates from this post because the photos I saw on TV after coming home were clearly larger than what I could see on the ground on location when I left around 12:30PM. I expect that the crowd continued to grow after I left and I probably didn't see the entire size of the crowd that was present when I left. My earlier estimates were wrong.
Unlike other things I've gone to, with a well-planned out program and name-brand speakers and everything ho-hum we all agree, this was way more grass-roots. Every sign was home-made expressing the individual's view point and with their own slogan.
The best part about being there was conversations with folks who were coming. Here's some examples of representative opinion:
Q: What is this about? Being taxed too much or about the corruption of government by both parties. A: Mostly about corruption.
Q: Who are the main spokesman for what this is about? A: Nobody really gets it. Glenn Beck comes the closest. No mentions of Rush Limbaugh. A couple of Hannity mentions.
My sense is that most of the people there used to be “social conservatives”, but got so burnt out by Bush 2 and the trough-feeding by the post-Contract-With-America Republicans in power that now they are basically in the I'm mad as hell, “throw the bums” non-partisans.
Some of the key ideas/slogans were:
“You Work For Me” - these folks have concluded that the politicians exist just to feather their own beds and their big buck-insider pals.
“No Obama Health Care” - my conclusion is that this is a case where folks realize that the reason why the Obama health-care plan is so nebulous is because the politicians are clearly lying and that it would never pass (be acceptable to the public) if it was clearly stated because it is intended to benefit the Washington insiders (and their elite pals) and screw the “hard-working”.
"You Lie" - applies especially to Obama, but also to all of the politicians in congress.
There was no clear fingering of the banksters or any other corporations (other than a resentment of the mainstream media). No much anti-Federal Reserve talk. The hostility was focused against unlistening politicians, power-hungy politicians and politicians taking/spending other people's money especially not for those people's own good.
The fact that the attendees were not listened to during the whole “TARP” bailout thing (and ignored / attacked by the press) is quite a sore point.
I could not hear any of the speakers at the front. I did hear one sound-bite speaking out against corruption by both Rupublicans and Democrats (to the cheering of the crowd).
My overall impression is that this is politically significant. Its 15 months to go to the next election congressional only election. Ordinarily around DC there would be nothing (especially from the “right”) at this time in the political cycle (they always manage to trot out some kind of “repent America” rally for the social conservatives during presidential election seasons). I expect that, given a lack of improvement in the economy for the average Joe, that this will be quite a bit bigger next year (say ½ million), better organized with a “throw the bums out” attitude.
This is clearly not an instrument of the Republican establishment. Its probably more of a threat to them than anyone else as the first step for really making things happen is to clean out the old Republican leadership as anybody who's trying to get in front of this crowd knows.
I think it immediately sucks significant political support out of Obama care, more bailouts, the carbon tax stuff as anyone who is up for reelection and isn't in a politically slam dunk district/state is going to try to avoid getting a “GO HOME” vote from these folks. This goes especially for anyone down south who got in on an anti-bush/pro-change we can believe in stance. This is particularly important in a congressional only election where voter turnout is the key to everything. My guess is that no significant legislation will pass before the next election.
I'm looking for some Republican to come out of nowhere with a populist, but conservative “stop the corruption” and we Republican's have been part of the problem message.
There were no clear messages I could see for how to stop the corruption, other than returning to the constitution and having honesty and integrity from government officials. This is an area where some work has to happen if this movement is going to go anywhere. There has to be better placement of blame on populist targets (beyond just the existing government and Obama) and a clear, simple message about what to do about it.
I hope you find this report helpful,