Budget debate launches new tea party
Tax protesters gather around the country. Is it a GOP put-up job?
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“The first year after the Mayflower arrived, the colonists tried a communal method of storing and sharing food and it failed miserably,” says Mr. Crawford. “Why are things any different now?”Skip to next paragraph
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Eighteenth-century symbolism was rife at the Atlanta event as speakers drew comparisons with the Boston patriots who dumped the King’s tea in Boston Harbor to protest taxation without representation, an act that began the American Revolution and the founding of the United States.
Some kids at the Atlanta protest wore tri-cornered hats, and one held a sign that said, “When I grow up I want to be free.”
In Tampa, two dozen protesters held handwritten signs with slogans like “Keep Your Bailout; I’ll Keep My Freedom.” About 300 people showed up in 25-degree weather in Wichita, Kansas, and someone brought a pig.
In St. Louis, local media expected about 50 people to show up while actual turnout surged to over 1,000 people.
Sparked in part by the unity of House Republicans in saying no to the $787 billion stimulus package and a well-publicized rant against a proposed mortgage bailout by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the protests represent the largest turnout of conservative activists since the anti-gun control rallies of the early 1990s, says Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform.
“Fiscal responsibility is the new counterculture, and that’s what we’re seeing here,” says conservative columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin. “People were so mad about how the bill was passed, not just what was in it, and the lack of deliberation that preceded the signing.”
“It’s given voice to a fledgling grassroots movement ... a ragtag bunch of homeschooling moms and little bloggers and a lot of people who are really deciding to get into grassroots activism for the first time,” she says.
How grassroots the movement really is, is debatable, says Ms. Deerman at Eastern Illinois University. “I’m suspicious only because ... the conservative movement has repeatedly used this tactic of creating an appearance of grassroots activism when they’re actually very well orchestrated,” she says. “It allows them to mask this ongoing ideological battle that’s super-invested in small government, low taxes, and a free market.”