D.C. Tea Party: Republicans Should Not Be Rejoicing Quite Yet
While some carried signs about immigration and even one vowing to do away with the Federal Reserve, the message was rather consistent and the tone hostile: they are very upset with the current administration and Congress' handling of fiscal and economic issues.
But Republicans should not be rejoicing quite yet. Many protesters went out of their way to say they are upset with both parties and hold George W. Bush equally responsible for launching the now never-ending stream of bailouts. And the crowd, if anything, was libertarian in bent rather than conservative. These people are advocating less government, restraints on federal power, and a return to "constitutional government." Social conservatives who seek expansion of state power on issues from abortion to support for faith-based programs may find themselves at odds with a newly invigorated movement to shrink government and enhance individual liberty.
It is not clear whether this is the making of a new political party or a flash in the pan. What it does show is that the absence of a single Republican leader does not hinder some impressive grassroots organizing. It also shows that young conservatives, who were out in abundance in Lafayette Park even in the pouring rain, do know how to organize through new media including Twitter. And it shows that for conservatives and libertarians, the Obama presidency is a powerful organizing tool. Just as the Left coalesced in opposition to George W. Bush, these activists are, to a large extent, acting out of resentment and anger toward the president and Democratic congressional leaders.
The proof will be in the pudding. If we see an influx of new candidates, activists, and volunteers stemming from the tea party movement, Wednesday will be seen as a significant day in modern political history and new media-based organizing. If the activists go home, never to be seen again, then the day will recede in memory as another failed attempt to shake the political status quo. Stay tuned.