9/12 Tea Parties Galvanized by Health Care Reform

The massive surge of conservative and libertarian activism on September 12 was unprecedented in American history. The day's main event was billed as the 9/12 Tea Party on the National Mall. Hundreds of thousands of everyday Americans marched on Washington, D.C., to protest the expansion of economic and social policies under the Barack Obama administration. The protest was the culmination of months of grassroots agitation against financial bailouts, economic profligacy, and government corruption and hubris. As Rick Moran wrote earlier on these pages:

This is history in the making, something the United States has never seen: a genuine grass-roots conservative mass movement, activated by the new technologies, communicating effectively using the new software and hardware -- and it is growing.

Outside the nation's capital, many unable to attend events in D.C. staged their own demonstrations at home. In Quincy, Ill., an estimated 12,000 came out for a tea party billed as "Lincoln's Legacy: Patriots on the Prairie." Glenn Reynolds was on hand in Quincy to report for Pajamas Media. Warning members of the party of Lincoln not to get too confident, Glenn notes that "those in the GOP who think that the tea party movement is for their benefit need to think again."

That sentiment was reflected in Ft. Worth, Texas, where local libertarian activists staged a rain-soaked tea party demonstration. One planner dubbed the event a "Parade, Rally, Protest, and all-around Procession of the Pissed." In Colorado, activists gathered at the state capitol to protest the "ever-accelerating runaway government spending and borrowing in Denver and D.C. alike, as well as the socialization of health care, and the irresponsibility and unaccountability of the state and federal government. Also at issue was the growth of government at all levels and the corresponding retreat of liberty before the 'nanny state'." As one protester tweeted: "Sign at Denver 912 rally: Lies make us angry; truth makes them angry."

Near my home in Los Angeles, a loose coalition of Southern California tea party activists organized "912 West: A Tea Party for the West Coast." The event was billed as "the largest tea party on the West Coast." The roster of speakers included actors Basil Hoffman and Victoria Jackson, as well as PJTV personalities Sonja Schmidt and Bill Whittle. Some estimates put the crowd size at 3,500 people. That's virtually nothing compared to Saturday's turnout in Washington, but those in attendance at the Wilshire Federal Building had all the grassroots enthusiasm of their cohorts marching on Capitol Hill.


What strikes me, as one who's reported on the tea party movement all year, is the sense of confidence and triumph among participants on Saturday. In April, when conservatives launched the first big wave of action in the Tax Day tea party events, I saw quite a bit of uncertainty about getting the message out and on what kind of impact the protests would have. Sure, back then the spirit was energetic -- euphoric at times -- when people realized "we can do this too."