Or two million. Or 500,000. In any case, as Rick Moran writes, “Debate Over Tea Party Protest Numbers Masks the Real History Made”:
What makes Saturday’s massive turnout around the country so significant is that it is the first truly conservative mass movement in American history. The amorphousness of conservatism until the 1950s probably had something to do with that. Conservatism prior to then was rather clubby and its “leaders” had very little interest in developing a mass movement like labor, socialists, or communists were attempting to do. Even the candidacies of Goldwater and Reagan were more party-oriented than ideological in nature, although there is little doubt that conservative activists learned how to organize an effective movement by being involved in both those races.
I think it unfair for the media or the left to characterize this movement as “Republican.” The fact that GOP politicians are seeking to hijack the movement for their own purposes should tell you that they themselves feel the separation and are drooling over the prospect of tapping the enthusiasm, the anger, and the commitment of the protestors for electoral gain.
It is definitely an opposition movement, however. Certainly there is mass unhappiness with President Obama and his policies. And there is opposition to the Democrats in Congress. But does this really translate into electoral strength for Republicans? I am going to go out on a limb and say no. The anger here is a reaction (reactionary?) against a growing government, higher taxes, and the sense that the country that they grew up in is slipping away right before their eyes.
It seems a little unfair to call the protesters “reactionary”, when they’re responding to a president whose governing mindset is trapped somewhere between FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, both mid-20th century programs rendered anathama by today’s free-wheeling culture and the myriad of choices made possible by technology and (for the moment at least) free markets. On the other hand, I’m glad to see the Tea Parties gaining acceptance. Some on the right were more than a little skeptical of them at first.
Related: Dana Loesch explores “The Tea Party Movement: How We Got Here.”