April 14, 2009
If things go as organizers plan, thousands of ordinary, hard-working Americans will hit the streets Wednesday in hundreds of Tea Party Protests called to oppose the high-tax and deficit spending policies of President Obama and the Democratic Congress. Some observers have compared the Tea Party Protests to the Tax Revolt that began in California in the 1970s and spread nationwide, eventually providing important support for President Ronald Reagan’s landmark 1981 tax rate cut. But there really is nothing in modern American political history to match the spontaneous explosion of grassroots political activism in recent months among what once was known as the Silent Majority.
The movement started with a “Porkulus” protest organized by Keli Carender, a blogger-mom in Seattle getting her first taste of political activism, three days before the now-famous Feb. 19 television news rant by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Carender was concerned about Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package. Blogger Michelle Malkin got wind of Carender’s activity and touted it, which led to similar protests in Colorado, Arizona, and Kansas. A national movement caught fire, organized by a bunch of mostly unconnected people who found each other via social networking on the Internet. These facts about the origins of the movement render especially goofy recent accusations from pro-Obama groups on the left that the Tea Party Protests are somehow part of an evil right-wing conspiracy funded either by CNBC or Fox News.
Part of the reason for the mean-spiritedness in some of the attacks from the pro-Obama groups is likely the failure of efforts to turn out large crowds in support of the chief executive’s $787 billion economic stimulus package and $3.6 trillion 2010 federal budget, with its $1 trillion deficit and comparable floods of red ink for a decade thereafter. The recent “New Way Forward” gathering here in D.C., for example, was heralded by organizers as the first of a wave of counter-Tea Party Protests, but barely a dozen people turned out. Similarly, much-publicized efforts to use the 13-million email addresses compiled by the Obama campaign to generate pressure on Congress barely caused a ripple.