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GOP Fails to Hijack Maine Tea Parties

State politicians in Maine tried and failed to co-opt the tea party demonstrations for their own purposes.

by
Andrew Ian Dodge

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April 18, 2009 - 12:00 am
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In Maine, top Republicans quickly rushed in to try and take over all the events. And guess who the media cared most about? The non-partisan events going on all over the state? Not on your life. They concentrated on the Republicans’ attempts at organizing things. A few days before tax day, the Portland Press Herald confirmed existing media bias and preoccupation in an article titled “The Mad Republicans Tea Party:”

A “Tax Day Tea Party” will be held on the pier Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. It’s one of many such events being held around the country on income tax day to demonstrate that the hard-core GOP is mad as hell at President Obama, liberals and the media elite, and is not, repeat not, going to take it anymore.

This made it far harder for those of us in red states to convince people it was not just a giant Republican Party whine-a-thon. There were many people involved — and some who pulled out — who were incensed by this move by Gingrich and top Maine Republicans.

Needless to say, this was especially hard to swallow in states like Maine and Pennsylvania, where it’s hard to tell some of the senior Republicans apart from Democrats.

Ultimately, it was fascinating to watch the big crowd at my local tea party.  The people were happy to express their opinion about those who were on stage. It reminded me of a crowd at a comedy club improv night. I can assure you that speaking before the crowd was not for the faint of heart

I should point out the amazing turnout from all parts of the community. There were medical practitioners, teachers, business owners, veterans, and working people. Many were newcomers to demonstrations, feeling forced to stand up and be counted. They were very concerned about the out-of-control government spending by the Obama administration. The day produced several impromptu speeches from a variety of individuals keen to express their concerns.

A few politicians naively grabbed the megaphone and tried to make a case for themselves. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of booing involved when that happened. A few of us likened it to The Gong Show back in the day. The most satisfying parts of the protest were the fife player, a well-spoken 9-year-old, and some great on-message protest signs.

Despite all the frustrations and a lack of accurate coverage in the media, it was worth it for the cause. I look forward to helping the next wave of organizers get through the minefield that is the organization tea party events.

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Andrew Ian Dodge blogs at Dodgeblogium.
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