(Design: Tennyson Hayes)
Blog pioneer Glenn Reynolds, author of “An Army of Davids,” has a nice overview of the Tea Party movement in the Wall Street Journal today. (We probably shouldn’t use the phrase “army of (fill-in-the-blank) anymore” — what with all the DHS warnings about “rightwing extremism chatter on the Internet” and “disgruntled military veterans” and all. But I digress.)
Reynolds’ reporting on how many Tax Day Tea Protesters are as fed up with Republicans as they are with Democrats is spot on. It’s something I’ve also pointed out and chatted with Glenn about since the tax revolts got underway nearly two months ago. Clueless leftists and lazy MSM journalists can scream about the partisan nature of the Tea Party movement until they are blue in the face. Too bad. They’re missing an important story. Reynolds writes:
There’s good news and bad news in this phenomenon for establishment politicians. The good news for Republicans is that, while the Republican Party flounders in its response to the Obama presidency and its programs, millions of Americans are getting organized on their own. The bad news is that those Americans, despite their opposition to President Obama’s policies, aren’t especially friendly to the GOP. When Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked to speak at the Chicago tea party, his request was politely refused by the organizers: “With regards to stage time, we respectfully must inform Chairman Steele that RNC officials are welcome to participate in the rally itself, but we prefer to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in Government as well as political parties. This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around.”
Likewise, I spoke to an organizer for the Knoxville tea party who said that no “professional politicians” were going to be allowed to speak, and he made a big point of saying that the protest wasn’t an anti-Obama protest, it was an anti-establishment protest. I’ve heard similar things from tea-party organizers in other cities, too. Though critics will probably try to write the tea parties off as partisan publicity stunts, they’re really a post-partisan expression of outrage.
Of course, it won’t be the same everywhere. There are no national rules, and organizers of each protest are doing things the way they want. And that’s the good news and the bad news for Democrats. It’s not a big Republican effort. It’s a big popular effort. But a mass movement of ordinary people who don’t feel that their voices are being heard doesn’t bode well for the party that positioned itself as the organ of hope and change.
Let me add one more example of Tea Party protesters upset with the Beltway GOP. Reader Ryan e-mails:
I doubt you’ll even get this with how busy you must be, but I am so disheartened I had to write the only person I really respect as always sticking to her conservative principles. My wife and I are signed up to go to the tea party in Madison, WI on April 15. I was very excited to finally get off the couch and make my voice heard. Then last week, I got an email from www.fightbackwisconsin.com saying that the Republican Party of Wisconsin had decided to sponsor the event by providing free parking and shuttle service. In addition (and probably as a condition of the free parking), Rep. Paul Ryan would be speaking. This, the same Paul Ryan that voted yes on the 700 billion dollar tarp bill. I like Paul Ryan and I think he’s a decent representative, but he is part of the problem. How can somebody who voted to spend 700 billion be addressing an anti-tax tea party?
In addition to voting for TARP, GOP Rep. Ryan — billed as a Republican rising star– voted for the auto bailout and the AIG 90 percent confiscatory bonus tax. Crikey. How many strikes do “Republican rising stars” get?
Another Wisconsin voter here highlights Paul Ryan’s troubling votes and flip-flopping:
So now all of a sudden, picking winners and losers in the market is bad policy? But a couple month ago, when Paul Ryan was arguing to give funds to the failing auto companies, that somehow wasn’t “neo-industrial policy” and wasn’t “picking winners and losers”? We weren’t taxing Toyota to save GM then? And now Paul is suddenly concerned about executive control over funding, when he said not one word after President Bush unilaterally, and illegally used TARP funds to bail out the auto industry? He’s concerned about keeping the Fed focused on the financial industry, but he had no problem with the car czar that he proposed in his earlier legislation?
Look, I’m all for cutting off these funds, and perhaps I’m being stupid to continue to go after Paul Ryan like this. But when reading these releases, you’d think that he was against these things the entire time! But only now that a Democratic President is in office, is he all of a sudden for a more reasonable fiscal policy that didn’t bailout industrial concerns.
Well you know what, that’s what a straight partisan hack does. He ought to be apologizing for his previous votes, not pretending he was being responsible the entire time, but I don’t see one bit of regret for what he did previously. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him get away with it.
If you have a GOP representative attending your tea party, be sure to look up his/her record on these and other key fiscal votes before you get to the event. Did the congressional reps speaking at your tea party vote for the $6 billion GIVE/SERVE national service boondoggle?
Did they fall for the Chicken Little scenarios plied by Paulson et al.? Ryan did. If so, the first words out of their mouths at the Tea Party protests should be:
Now is not the time to sing kumbaya with the GOP or indulge in celebrity worship. This is the chance to hold your politicians accountable for engaging in legislation without deliberation, for “sacrificing the free market to save it” to paraphrase George the pre-socializer Bush, and for abandoning their fiscal conservative principles in the mad rush to “Do something.” (Quoting Rep. Ryan from last fall: “Doing nothing is the worst thing we could do!”)
I hope someone in Madison will ask why Tea Party activists should trust him not to crumble the next time the big government juggernaut yells “emergency!”
Promoting his tea party appearance, Ryan told a local radio station:
“I think the message is people are fed up with this notion of chasing ever-higher spending with ever-higher taxes. There’s a limit to how much you can soak the taxpayer.”
Message to GOP opportunists hitching their wagons to the Tea Party movement:
Practice what you preach when it matters. Not after the fact.
(And that goes for retired politicians and presidential hopefuls who flip-flopped on TARP and bailoutpalooza, too.)