I hate to report it, but sadly the Washington Post told the truth about the Capitol Hill rally last Thursday aimed at the budget compromisers squirreled away in the buildings behind the rally site. There were almost more political speakers and reporters then there were faithful Tea Party grassroots activists in attendance.
From the Washington Post:
A sparse crowd of tea party activists gathered beneath the U.S. Capitol on Thursday to urge Congress to cut more spending from the current federal budget and to cheer on some of their favorite politicians, including Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Steve King (R-Iowa).
One organizer estimated that a couple of hundred protesters had gathered near the Robert A. Taft bell tower north of the Capitol at lunchtime Thursday. According to a media sign-in sheet, at least 50 of those present were journalists documenting the latest tea party rally in Washington.
Although organizers blamed the dreary, wet day for some of the low turnout, the thin crowd also highlighted the challenge facing tea party organizers as they try to keep their grass-roots supporters active and engaged nearly six months after the enormous Republican electoral victories they helped win in the fall.
Why did so few make it to Washington? First there is the simple reality—people work and have lives. If there is little lead time for an event they simply cannot get themselves to Washington with a few days notice and on a day in mid-week. It is that simple. Tea Party leaders live and breath this stuff and some are now paid full time salaries to rally the troops, but the troops make a living elsewhere.
Perhaps the more fundamental reason attendance was low is captured in that sentence (in bold) from the Post above.
Many people feel that they did work hard over the last year and elected enough Republicans to bring about a majority of supposed budget-cutters to the House of Representatives, and now as much as we love Michele Bachmann, or Mike Pence or Steve King (all speakers at the rally last Thursday), disgusted Tea Partiers are seeing the House leadership slipping back into the go-along-to-get-along mindset we’ve seen so many times before from the Republican ruling class.
So, I expect most say, I’ll stay home, go to work, go to the kids’ games, keep my doctors appointment, or my lunch engagement with an old friend rather than making one more trip to wave my flag or protest sign in Washington where they don’t listen anyway.
A pox on both their houses!
Here is a good “feeling betrayed” opinion piece by David Firestone published at the New York Times that captures the mood (I think) of those in attendance on Thursday and those at home with better things to do.
The cold March mist could not drench the piercing moral clarity on view Thursday afternoon at the Tea Party rally outside the Capitol, where a small crowd of the faithful gathered to save the country from compromisers.
There must be no bargaining when it comes to slashing government spending and ending government health care, according to a succession of activists and lawmakers who spoke into a P.A. system turned up far too loud. Not a single step backward, not an inch of ground lost.
Inside the building just behind the protesters, leaders of both parties were busy selling them out. To keep the government open and, more important, to avoid the blame of having it shut down, each party was contemplating giving up something it once considered precious to reach a deal. And that was unimaginable to the people at the rally, who prefer to think of their government as a sleek and pristine civics-book ideal, rather than the sweat-stained product of exhausting negotiation.
The sense that unreliable Republican leaders were giving away the store lent an air of shrill desperation to those trying to stop them, who built in volume into a bullhorn of negative fury.
Many of those present couldn’t decide whom they despised the most: subversive Democrats, who were occasionally compared to the nation’s historic enemies, or spineless Republicans, who had abandoned their post in the nation’s darkest hour.
Read it all.
I suspect we will get some clarity this week as the deadline approaches for the next possible government shutdown. Will we continue to try to change the Republican Party or move on to Plan B?
Hint to Tea Party organizers—if you want people in DC, plan better.
Meanwhile Tea Party groups are busy closer to home. I liked reading this—a group of Tea Party Patriots in Tunkhannock, PA rallied to show their support for their local Congressman and thank him for voting with them on the budget. No banks of reporters and no big name politicians grandstanding on the podium, just a quiet thanks back at home.
About a dozen people identifying themselves with the tea party movement staged a rally on Thursday outside the Tunkhannock office of U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-10, Lycoming Twp.
The group of activists said they were rallying in support of the Republican congressman’s opposition to the federal budget impasse and the continuing resolution by Congress to keep the federal government operating. They are also pushing for repeal of federal health care legislation that was enacted last year.
John Lukach of Towanda was among members of the Tea Party Patriots of Bradford County. He said they wanted to show Mr. Marino that they support his positions.
“We’re here as a pro-rally for Marino to vote, as his constituents want, against Obamacare,” Mr. Lukach said.
The noontime rally was timed to coincide with a similar, larger event in Washington, D.C.
I wish I had thought of this and I hope some Tea Partiers thanked budget warriors Congressmen Bartlett and Harris right here in Maryland!
Endnote: Americans for Prosperity has a DC rally scheduled for this week—April 6th—we will see if they do better at bringing out the troops since they did have a little more lead time in their publicity for the rally.