York: Look for Tea Party meaning in the small towns

posted at 12:55 pm on April 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

After all the tea parties have disbanded, and the media scorn has vanished, what did all of it mean?  Byron York says that the true meaning can be found in the small towns, rather than the larger, more organized protests in media centers like New York and Washington DC.  Byron believes that the depth and breadth of the protests should worry those in power … in both parties:

A number of press reports have characterized the tea parties as anti-Obama exercises. The Wall Street Journal carried an online story headlined “Anti-Obama ‘Tea Party’ Protests Mark Tax Day.” CNN introduced a tea-party story by saying, “This is a party for Obama-bashers.”  The Los Angeles Times ran a column headlined, “Anti-Obama Taxpayer Tea Parties Steeped in Insanity.”  But in Winchester at least, the atmosphere was not so much anti-Obama — organizers posted a note on their website asking that everyone “Please DO NOT personally attack the President or any member of Congress by name” — as it was a classic conservative Republican, limited-government, anti-spending talkfest.  Anyone who covered the GOP primary contests in 2007-2008 would have recognized it immediately.

At those gatherings, as now, Republicans complained of runaway federal spending.  They didn’t want to bash George W. Bush — they were too grateful for his efforts in the War on Terror to do that — but they blamed the then-president, as well as Republicans in Congress, for failing to rein in federal spending.  And on spending at least, they heard what they wanted from John McCain and voted for him, even though many disliked the party nominee for a variety of other reasons.

Looking back, the way a lot of them see it is that Bush laid the foundation for worse things to follow.  “It started with the Republicans and with Bush,” James Spangler, the insurance agent, told me.  “I mean, I’m a George Bush guy, but it started with him at the end, with Bernanke and Paulson — those guys screwed up big time, and they opened the door for those people who are in there now to just go crazy, which is what they’re doing.”

Now, deficits that troubled them a few years ago have tripled.  The $787 billion stimulus bill, in particular, bothered everyone here — not just the spending, but how it was rushed through Congress by a secretive Democratic leadership before anyone in the general public had a chance to examine it.  (One child here carried a sign that said READ B4 U SIGN!) The projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009 simply blows their mind.  And then there is the old-fashioned stuff.  A number of people were aware of a new report by Citizens Against Government Waste naming Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran as the Congress’ most prolific earmarker, with $653 million in park-barrel projects for his state.  “I heard about Thad Cochran, and it was really upsetting to me,” homemaker Cheryl Lancaster told me, “because I always thought it was more Democrat than Republican.  But honestly, it’s both of them.”

The resonance of these protests go beyond the actual fiscal policies that prompted them.  In fact, as Professor Paul Rahe would appreciate, the real disaffection comes from a governing power that grows increasingly remote and autocratic, and that has a real connection to the historical Tea Party in Boston.  Just as the raiders protested tax policies imposed on them from a distant and mostly unresponsive British government, the American people have finally tired of power moving away from localities and states and to a federal government much more interested in pork patronage than in the actual priorities of each community.

That impulse does not belong solely to the Democratic Party.  Republicans have fed at the pork trough, which creates more federal power over the money of the American people and less control over the governance by the citizenry.  The founders never envisioned having the entire nation run by 535 people in the District of Columbia, with the states subservient to the mandates of Congress and the President.  They imagined a nation that mostly governed itself, with a federal government that had the authority to enforce the Constitution and to defend itself.

The Tea Parties signal an intent by the American people to move the paradigm back in favor of more local government and a return to individual liberty rather than a dependent population left to beg for scraps from Washington’s table.  Byron has it right; look for the meaning in the small towns that feel overwhelmed by federal hegemony.

Meanwhile, here are a few pics from Hot Air readers.  Looks like Dallas got a big turnout, courtesy Michael:

Jeanine says San Antonio got the spirit.  I think they provided the definition for “asinine” for the media:

We love Montanans, too, Keemo!  Good definition of Tea Party, too:

Piscataway residents resent getting treated like a money machine, via Paul:

Jeff in Chicago notes a future surveillance target at a protest:

And he also sees someone who’s learned a lesson young:

Finally, almost 3,000 people turned out in Southlake Texas, with a population of less than 25,000, via Brian.  You need to update the date on your camera, though, Brian!


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Ernesto, did you get to go to the NYC tea party?

HornetSting on April 16, 2009 at 1:45 PM

i work in midtown. i took the train. :-)

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:19 PM

Ernesto, did you get to go to the NYC tea party?

HornetSting on April 16, 2009 at 1:45 PM
i work in midtown. i took the train. :-)

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:19 PM

What did you think?

HornetSting on April 16, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Yeah, pay your taxes and vote.
getalife on April 16, 2009 at 2:09 PM

We’re not the ones who need to be told to pay our taxes. You’re mistaking us with Obama’s cabinet.
Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 2:15 PM

Look, I know everyone is always saying getalife is a “dumb ass” and an “idiot,” etc… And I know that they’re all right.

But, in his defense, do you think the average Congressman is one IQ point smarter; or receives one percent less of his income from your tax dollars?

We’ve been arguing with narcissistic imbeciles every day for over 80 years now. And today, now that the unemployable class has over 50% of the vote, do you really think a few rallies are going to change that?

Federal outlays this year – assuming no additional spending – will comprise approximately 140% of GDP. Whine all you want about how the government is “throwing money down a giant black hole” — but if you pay taxes, how are you not doing the same thing?

logis on April 16, 2009 at 2:22 PM

Seriously, TheBigOldDog, they don’t EVEN want to go there with the sign comparing thing. That dog won’t hunt…LGF has huge archive files to prove it.

I don’t get why the left refuses to see this as a partisan tea party instead of an Obama hate fest. Sure, a lot of people are blaming Obama for massive spending, he just massively spent! But this out of control spending started happening long before he came into office and the Republicans and Democrats both want it to stop. It’s the divisive media who paints it the wrong way. As usual.

scalleywag on April 16, 2009 at 2:22 PM

You did idly by when w socialized the banks and stole freedom.

getalife on April 16, 2009 at 2:11 PM

Common leftist misconception. We (true fiscal conservatives) were not pleased about what W did in his last days in office, but we did not take to the streets until Obama multiplied what Bush did by 4X or 5X.

But why are we wasting our time and energy responding to GetMyHeadOutOfMyAss. Let’s talk about something more sonctructive, shall we?

UltimateBob on April 16, 2009 at 2:24 PM

We stop working – shut down our businesses, etc. They can’t take what we don’t Produce!!

Galt2009 on April 16, 2009 at 2:18 PM

People have no courage anymore.
It’s gonna take a lot worse for people to grow a pair & do something that drastic.

Badger40 on April 16, 2009 at 2:25 PM

but if you pay taxes, how are you not doing the same thing?

logis on April 16, 2009 at 2:22 PM

I don’t know about you, but I don’t get a say in whether or not I pay taxes. They’re taken from me every week.

I’m not arguing that protests will change that, but they do at least put a few !!!!!!!!s on the arguments against pork and reckless spending.

Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Badger40 on April 16, 2009 at 2:18 PM

I understand. The MSM is desperately trying to minimalize yesterday because it was a uniting event. It showed people from all corners of America stating their shared beliefs. America’s strength is in her people. Liberals live in fear of the Silent Majority standing up and being heard. It’s starting to happen right now.

kingsjester on April 16, 2009 at 2:26 PM

Impractical as it may seem, candidates for the 2010 House and Senates races should be asked to sign pledges that require them to refuse to engage in earmarking or to vote in favor of any bill including earmarks.

Beyond that, each candidate should be required to pledge to keep a daily calendar of the elected official’s contacts with nonconstituents, lobbyists, and constituents seeking some form of assistance or benefit personal or organizational. These contacts include all paid and unpaid staffers too. Daily calendars would be required to be posted on the official’s Congressional Web site by 9 am for the previous day.

The catcher: The pledge would require the official to resign upon presentation of incontrovertible evidence that he or she violated the pledge.

Screw all these politicians.

BuckeyeSam on April 16, 2009 at 2:27 PM

We (true fiscal conservatives) were not pleased about what W did in his last days in office

UltimateBob on April 16, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Plus, the man was on the way out anyway and would have signed the bill anyway. And we were in the final days of the election, when we actually had a chance to impact how our nation would go in the future.

Protesting pork in the last 8 or 30 years wouldn’t have been a bad idea either, but as you said, it just got so much worse under Obama.

Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 2:27 PM

When America finally takes the Big Dump, the getalife trolls will make tiny splashes before heading down the tubes.

RandyChandler on April 16, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Yeah, pay your my taxes and vote.

getalife on April 16, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Fixed.

HondaV65 on April 16, 2009 at 2:31 PM

What did you think?

HornetSting on April 16, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Huge crowd. Not many loud abnoxious types that would carry a Obama=hitler sign. Ron Paul presence for sure, i mean they held it right outside the woolworth building, NYU dorms. the organization was damn near flawless, good array of speakers, and they got some people from the crowd up too. they even got a puerto rican from pennsylvania up there.

the crowd was extremely loud, USA chants broke out in the middle of everyones speeches, even gingrich i believe. some local flavor to chants as well (“Schumer must go, etc). i enjoyed myself at the rally to be sure, even if on occasion id have to remind people that the local republican representatives voted for the same bloated budgets they’re all of a sudden decrying. and one guy turned his speech into a religious thing about planned parenthood…cant say i agreed with him.

oh and they had some blond sing bluegrass.

note to conservatives: we don’t all automatically start liking bluegrass once we start espousing a smaller government or more hands off economic approach.

anyway, the afterparty was cool. it was funny seein everyone in this chic chelsea warehouse loft on 10 ave. drinkin beers sitting on posh couches…i mean it just doesnt seem like the place you find a tea party crowd. but much fun to be had.

id recommend more people from farther out head to NYC if theres one on the 4th of July.

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Same here and we usually get back a refund. Maybe it would be smarter to get as close to no refund as possible. It’s not like they pay us interest to use our money. I wonder what the impact would be if those who normally get a refund make the change?

Cindy Munford on April 16, 2009 at 2:32 PM

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Yay! I’m doing a little happy dance around the office for you. It sounds like you enjoyed yourself and no one was arrested for breaking windows or clashing with police.

HornetSting on April 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM

note to conservatives: we don’t all automatically start liking bluegrass once we start espousing a smaller government or more hands off economic approach.

True enough, but unfortunately we don’t get many options. I mean Rage is only Against the Machine when it’s an R.

I do wish we could get more musically diverse.

id recommend more people from farther out head to NYC if theres one on the 4th of July.

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:31 PM

I think most of those smaller parties should head to the bigger cities. That way they’ll be easier to count and harder for the media to miss.

Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:31 PM

I was hoping for a little bit of “Don’t Tread On Me” by Metallica to run with the apparent theme at our rally but I am pretty sure that the blue hairs would not have been amused. But was the blonde singing bluegrass cute? You have to look for the pony in the barn.

Cindy Munford on April 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM

I attended yesterday’s tea party in Wilmington, DE. It was raining like holy hell all afternoon, but the turnout was not too shabby. A vacant storefront property at our meeting place (along the Christina River) was “donated” to us by the property owner. There appeared to be 600 or 700 people in the room (an estimate from my back-of-the-room viewpoint). Estimates ranged from 1,000 to 2,000 but honestly there weren’t that many people outside the building. Maybe a hundred or so.

A very memorable moment was when a state representative, Charlie Copeland (R), took the mic and made a speech about the original Boston Tea Party. He told the tale of one 15-year old participant. Turned out to be his great great great grandfather (I could be off by a ‘great’ or two). Very cool that we have a descendant of a participant in that historical event serving us in Dover.

The organizers asked that people not display signs that were offensive, partisan, or otherwise unnecessarily provocative, and the crowd was compliant with that as far as I could tell. The crowd was alive with energy. But the thing that struck me the most about this event was the feeling of comeraderie. Everyone was friendly to one another and greeting others with a genuine smile and a hello. We were there for a common cause: to speak out against the INSANITY and our of control deficit spending in Washington.

UltimateBob on April 16, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Same here and we usually get back a refund. Maybe it would be smarter to get as close to no refund as possible.

Cindy Munford on April 16, 2009 at 2:32 PM

I’d certainly recommend that. Just goes along with the, “you can use your money better than the government can” mentality.

Cause you’re right. They keep it all year long and pay no interest to you on it.

Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 2:40 PM

Yay! I’m doing a little happy dance around the office for you. It sounds like you enjoyed yourself and no one was arrested for breaking windows or clashing with police.

HornetSting on April 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM

Not only did no one break windows, but the NYPD was thanked both at the beginning and end of the rally, and the organizers even joked that this would be the only rally in NYC where the parting words would be “and remember to pick up trash on the way out, we’re not slobs”

Cindy Munford on April 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM

Ahhhh Dont Tread on Me woulda been PERFECT! But yes the blond was quite the looker. As were most of the attendees of the afterparty. It still wasn’t what it could’ve been though, as you weren’t there =P

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:41 PM

the organizers even joked that this would be the only rally in NYC where the parting words would be “and remember to pick up trash on the way out, we’re not slobs”

I love that. I always hate it when I go to an event with a group I care about where they leave trash everywhere. I hope they all promote that.

Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 2:43 PM

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:41 PM

DITTO!!! It would have been a good time. Glad you had a fun. I got a half-a$$ farmer’s tan. We had mounted police outside of our venue and they were quite the photo-op. They probably thought it was boring but it beats the alternative.

Cindy Munford on April 16, 2009 at 2:48 PM

Question…
If the gov doesn’t pay interest on your withholdings every pay period…ahh..
Does that mean they’re practicing sharia finance in some way? /sarc

jerrytbg on April 16, 2009 at 2:53 PM

It just struck me why I really support the Tea Partys, and why I feel angry about the whole thing…

We’re being lied to.

You CANNOT grow government, yet give a tax break to 95% of the people without going into futher debt…

Obama’s “Tax cut” gave me $400 of MY KIDS MONEY! It was a BRIBE, pure and simple.

Its unsustainable, and anyone with half a brain knows it… but are having problems articulating it…

Its common sense that you cannot borrow your way out of debt… and There aint no such thing as a free lunch…

Yet our government, and political parties which control that government, are trying to convince us that we are wrong, and they can “create” a free lunch, somehow….

Romeo13 on April 16, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Question…
If the gov doesn’t pay interest on your withholdings every pay period…ahh..
Does that mean they’re practicing sharia finance in some way? /sarc

jerrytbg on April 16, 2009 at 2:53 PM

lol as facetious as that is i suppose we should be entitled to interest on those withholdings. since we all know those funds go straight to all kinds of other stuff.

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:57 PM

Romeo13 on April 16, 2009 at 2:56 PM

exactly right. thats also why it was dumb for Bush to borrow for the wartime tax cut. also why it was dumb to borrow to fight the cold war, or vietnam. dumb to borrow for the great society.

this debt must end. we do things like wreck the global monetary system (see: nixon/gold standard) when we decide we don’t have to pay for sh*t.

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:59 PM

The really great news, and ernesto touched on it, is this was unlike any other protest in recent or not so recent history.
It was a protest to vent your opinion, everyones opinion concerning taxation, and not about “anger”.
And imagine, what a great line, pick up the trash on the way out…something the “liberals” never quite grasp.

right2bright on April 16, 2009 at 3:05 PM

just sayin’ ernesto…lol!

jerrytbg on April 16, 2009 at 3:07 PM

exactly right. thats also why it was dumb for Bush to

borrow for the wartime tax cut. also why it was dumb to borrow to fight the cold war, or vietnam. dumb to borrow for the great society.

this debt must end. we do things like wreck the global monetary system (see: nixon/gold standard) when we decide we don’t have to pay for sh*t.

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Yeah…. Bush and others have been guilty of this… but the Obama Admin has taken it to a whole new level.

Its like the difference between a little wind, and a Hurricane, somtimes an order of magnitude changes the very nature of the thing in question…

Romeo13 on April 16, 2009 at 3:12 PM

http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/frseries/frseri3.htm

Government Services
The Federal Reserve System, through the Reserve Banks, performs various services for the U.S. Treasury and other government, quasi-government, and international agencies. Each year, billions of dollars are deposited to and withdrawn by various government agencies from operating accounts in the U.S. Treasury held by the Federal Reserve Banks.

The Federal Reserve Banks hold, in their vaults, collateral for government agencies to secure public funds that are on deposit with private depository institutions. In addition, Reserve Banks receive for deposit to the Treasury’s accounts such items as federal unemployment taxes, individual income taxes withheld by payroll deduction, corporate income taxes, and certain federal excise taxes.

The Federal Reserve Banks also issue and redeem instruments of the public debt, such as savings bonds and Treasury securities. They have certain responsibilities for allotment and delivery of government securities and for wire transfer of securities. In addition, the Reserve Banks make periodic payments of interest on outstanding obligations of the U.S. Treasury, federal agencies, and government-sponsored corporations.

Essentialy, you pay your income tax to the Federal Reserve Bank, who holds it for the Government… BUT, they do not daily balance the books… what really happens is the Fed Res LOANS money to the Fed Gov for ongoing needs, and then periodicly, they use the non interest accruing Income Tax assets to “balance” the books… plus the Vig of course.

Add in that the Fed can use this Income tax witholding money for the base of Fractional Lending… and the FACT that the Fed Res Bank pays not income tax…

And you begin to get an idea of how screwed up this whole thing is.

Romeo13 on April 16, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Yeah…. Bush and others have been guilty of this… but the Obama Admin has taken it to a whole new level.

Its like the difference between a little wind, and a Hurricane, somtimes an order of magnitude changes the very nature of the thing in question…

Romeo13 on April 16, 2009 at 3:12 PM

obviously. doubling down was the exact wrong thing to do, in terms of the national debt. but my anger, nor my presence at the really, would not be soothed by the wholesale election of republicans. many at these rallys make it seem like thats the case.

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 3:26 PM

this debt must end. we do things like wreck the global monetary system (see: nixon/gold standard) when we decide we don’t have to pay for sh*t.

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Agreed. We can’t live like this.

Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 3:29 PM

Wow! Look at all those crazy, fringe radicals causing all kinds of riots and civil unrest.

patriette on April 16, 2009 at 3:42 PM

ernesto, our rally was all about firing Congress, term limits and throwing the bums out based on the signs. No politicans spoke or even came. No party was promoted. The best sign I saw was a picture of a beautiful small child (six months) with the words “I owe how much?” under the picture.

Cindy Munford on April 16, 2009 at 3:50 PM

I was in Little Beirut yesterday. The crowd filled pioneer square. Both the organizers and Channel 6 News (the local CBS affiliate) put attendance at about 4,000 people. The Oregonian metro section (affiliated with NBC) revised that number down to 1,000. I was there. 4,000 is a better estimate.

A word on police. Though this was my first demonstration as an attendee, this wasn’t my first protest as an observer. Usually the police are present in force: Riot gear, equestrian detail, and plenty of bicycle patrolmen. I spotted exactly three uniformed police officers. None mounted or in riot gear. Either the police didn’t think the turn out would be this large or they hold a different opinion of this crowd.

Perhaps I’m delusional, but I feel (I know I should be thinking, not feeling, but this is a deep gut sort of thing which I’ve come to trust) that this whole TEA party affair marks a turning point in American Politics. The gathering in Portland wasn’t sponsored or lead by a political party. There were Libertarians, Republicans, and even Democrats in attendance but they were there as individuals rather than party members. The ability of the 21st century American to inexpensively communicate with one another across vast distances and organize events like this in such short order, to my mind, heralds a new era where the influence and power of political parties significantly reduced. The political parties were formed to provide a service to the citizenry and now the citizenry is proving that it can perform that service for itself. It may be that political parties may be becoming obsolete.

Browncoatone on April 16, 2009 at 3:54 PM

ernesto, our rally was all about firing Congress, term limits and throwing the bums out based on the signs. No politicans spoke or even came. No party was promoted. The best sign I saw was a picture of a beautiful small child (six months) with the words “I owe how much?” under the picture.

Cindy Munford on April 16, 2009 at 3:50 PM

Im sure some of the smaller ones steered clear of partisan antics, but the NYC rally had a smattering of state legislators…along with newt effing gingrich. But Gingrich made the very important point about primarying anyone who votes yes on the budget period. repub, dem, they gotta go. That’s how i feel, but theres obviously some partisan feelings among those i find myself agreeing with these days.

ernesto on April 16, 2009 at 4:06 PM

Gingrich is a great idea man, totally unelectable any more so he’s always interesting. As usual I like my local guy, he voted against TARP against a president of his party. After that he had nothing to lose. He and I had a dust up over the 90% tax on AIG bonus, he assures me it was a protest vote and that he would have voted against it out of conference. Again he thinks he has nothing to lose but that one vote is enough for me to be done with him. I don’t get to vote in the primaries because I am registered as an independent. So ultimately he is probably secure.

Cindy Munford on April 16, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 2:25 PM

I’ll take it a step further. If I owed taxes that weren’t taken out of my paycheck, I’d pay it as quickly as I could. Why? With Napolitano and Holder in their respective slots and a DHS report like the one Janet’s okay with, I’d be scared not to do it. I mean, her first name is ‘Janet’.

Sultry Beauty on April 16, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Estimates of the numbers at the San Antonio Tea Party were 16,000 (from the San Antonio Police Department) at the height of the rally.

A lot of the photos were taken from Alamo Square. I haven’t seen anything about the overflow area at Hemisfair Park, so I don’t know if those numbers are accounting for that or not.

catmman on April 16, 2009 at 5:19 PM

That’s my Tea Party that Byron York attended. What a shocker to see him there. My husband and I talked to him briefly as he was as cold and wet as we were. I was so gratified to read his piece as he certainly described what happened perfectly.
Exactly half of the population of Winchester voted for Obama. What a shocker that was as it is a fairly conservative town. Clearly they thought they were going to get a change from the previous administration. They did, but it wasn’t the change they thought they were going to get.
They also voted en mass for Mark Warner because they thought he had been a good governor. I never thought he was because he raised taxes when he really didn’t need to. It was a campaign that I found pretty disgusting. His numbers were up to 70%. It was a landslide. I know that many of the people in VA are now sorry they voted for him, too. He has turned out to be horribly Liberal and not the moderate that he pretended to be. Then there is Jim Webb. What can I say except he is as socialistic as Obama. So the good folks of Winchester have been lied to again by a government they thought was going to be different. They aren’t quite ready to admit it yet and blame both parties. There is blame to go around everywhere, but the biggest criminals reside in the Democrat Party and the folks aren’t quite ready to actually embrace that. It’s easier to blame them all.
We did have one polititian speak at our rally and it was our State Senator, Jill Vogel. I mention her by name as she is definitely a Conservative, a mom and a small business owner. She picked up this seat from a RINO and is someone to watch. She is the first of the Conservatives that will probably for higher office. So far she has served her constituents well. When given a choice Conservatism wins every time.

BetseyRoss on April 16, 2009 at 7:10 PM

Run for local office, people!

SouthernGent on April 16, 2009 at 10:20 PM

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