Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tea Party turnout (and it's not astroturf!)

Nice write-up from the Associated Press about the 9/12 protest against big government and excessive federal spending. It's actually respectful of the much bally-hooed event and the grassroots rage that's driving the demonstration.

Turn-out estimates are vague, but obviously substantial, to judge by the statements "Tens of thousands of protesters fed up with government spending marched to the U.S. Capitol on Saturday ..." and "The line of protesters clogged several blocks near capitol, according to the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency." I take that to mean "a whole lot of people showed up." If I remember right, the D.C. authorities have stopped releasing crowd-size guesstimates in order to avoid ruffling feathers, so we'll just have to work with the post-protest claims and counter-claims by supporters and opponents.

Perhaps the most important paragraph in the piece is the following:
Many protesters said they paid their own way to the event — an ethic they believe should be applied to the government. They say unchecked spending on things like a government-run health insurance option could increase inflation and lead to economic ruin.
That not only underlines a major motivation for the protest, it undercuts charges that the day is an exercise in "astroturfing."

It sounds like the event is staying reasonably on-topic, with opposition to expanding the role and expense of the state.

Nice take here from the Washington Post:
The groups behind the protests include a broad array of self-described libertarians, independents and other factions, who have emerged as a force largely independent of GOP leaders in Washington. Some of that is by design: Leading activists among the conservative groups say they remain suspicious of a party that endorsed runaway deficits, a Wall Street bailout and other Bush-era policies they found objectionable.
The media seems to have moved beyond the claim that this is some sort of fake protest, to growing concern that the peasants really are revolting without any insiders at their head.

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Blogger Chris said...

I was there from about 10:00 AM to a little after 3:00 PM. Pennsylvania Avenue was curb-to-curb with marchers for about a mile from 10:45 AM to after 1:00 PM, with stragglers for another hour. I saw more people I would describe as conservative than libertarian (I'm a libertarian anarchist), but that's obviously a limited view of things.

I had a nice conversation with two 20-something liberals who had been walking their dog. I heard the woman complaining that the marchers were just pissed-off white people. Yes, the vast majority were white. I don't know why that would be a surprise. But some friends I met there had an elderly African-American woman with them, and wow! was she conservative. The young man also said, in so many words, that a government is necessary because most people are too stupid to make their own decisions. He was taken aback by my assertion that neither he nor anyone has the right, much less the ability, to make decisions for other people. Oh, well. Maybe he'll grow up someday. Or not.

September 12, 2009 4:31 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I'm just not that impressed. Where were these people during the Bush Administration? I suspect they'll disappear once another Republican is in the White House.

September 13, 2009 7:06 AM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...


To the extent that the folks in the streets are Republicans who overlooked the Bush administration's impressive metastasizing of the the state, you're right about their hypocrisy. But there are people involved in the protests -- such as libertarians -- who were as offended by GOP excesses as they are by the Democrats. Happily, not everything comes down to Dems vs. Reps.

September 13, 2009 12:06 PM  
Blogger akaGaGa said...

Did you see this post about the NY Times writeup? Not that we'd expect anything different from them, but I hate to see you giving too much credit to the media.

September 14, 2009 4:49 AM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

Ah well. In my defense, I didn't cite the Times. It's interesting. I can disagree with the Washington Post on a given issue, but it still generally tries to be a newspaper. The Times doesn't even make the effort.

September 14, 2009 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Josephine said...

But some friends I met there had an elderly African-American woman with them, and wow! was she conservative...:??

September 15, 2009 1:46 AM  

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