Thursday, April 16, 2009

TEA Party report

I hadn't seen a crowd this large at the plaza since the income tax fight in 2001/02 and before that since the Marches for Jesus that were an annual event in Nashville in the mid-90's before that. It was tremendously encouraging. These folks were standing shoulder to shoulder. They were polite and apologizing for bumping into each other--which just couldn't be helped considering the press of the crowd. Many were in costume. The creativity in the signage was great. I saw a lot of young families with strollers and babies. I saw lots of older folks who were raised in depression era families and were obviously determined not to allow that to happen again.

These folks probably had the best view of the crowd. The sidewalks between the plaza and the capitol were filled with people also. In fact the plaza was quite literally packed. The crowd spilled down the steps to the street, filled the sidewalks and cars and trucks were circling the block honking their horns in support. Low ball figures of just a couple of thousand are outrageously understated whether for their own agenda or lazy/lousy reporting I can't say. It had to be over 8,000 in attendance.

Instructions had been given just before the event started that if a counter protester started being disruptive that those near them should start chanting "USA, USA" and assigned people would come and show them the sidewalk. Their right to demonstrate their free speech was acknowledge, however, we had reserved the plaza and they had to use the public sidewalks. That only happened once that I saw. Someone near them placed an "ACORN" sign in front of their sign. Their sign was too wordy and illegible from where I was so I had no idea who they were or what their issue was.

I had been asked to round up some children to lead us in the pledge to the flag. That too oft use phrase "It's for the children" was certainly the sincere motivation for many attendees. No one wants to leave them a nation less free and shackled with debt than the one we'd had the benefit of living in.

In the crowd from left to right: Bobbie Patray of the Tennessee Eagle Forum, Drew Johnson of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, and Kathleen Starnes newly installed Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party. I glimpsed lots of conservatives in the crowd and it felt good to exchange hugs and words of solidarity with those I could actually get close to.

Here's the final crowd shot before we left. This is a full 15 minutes after the event ended. Folks hung around for along time after chatting, networking and encouraging one another to continue to hold Congress' feet to the fire.

My favorite sign.

Best visual goes to Ben Cunningham of the Tennessee Tax Revolt. He produced, from sources he swore to protect, Congress' credit card. He asked the crowd what Dave Ramsey would advise be done with it. The crowd chants "Cut it up! Cut it up!" and so with the help of two of the children Ben does just that. The scissors prove insufficient for the job so he pulls out his own pocket knife and finishes the job to the roar of the crowd.

And yes, you can't have a good political rally without speechifying. From left to right: acting as Master of Ceremonies was Judson Phillips of, radio talk show hosts Steve Gill, Phil Valentine, Michael DelGiorno and blogger+ Ken Marrero.

Here's US Rep. Marsha Blackburn keynote speaker with her grandson Jack. She pointed out that every child born now already owes the US Government $70,000. This is exactly why so many folks attended the TEA Party yesterday. We do not want to go further into debt. We do not want our children (or grandchildren) to suffer this outrageous expansion of government. She was clearly a crowd favorite. And they broke into chanting "Marsha, Marsha" several times

I don't recall the name of this singer who lead us in the national anthem and also concluded the event with his rendition of the current John Rich hit "They're Shutting Detroit Down". Ken Marrero commented on the shoe string budget that didn't allow for teleprompters (great laugh line, btw) and so the woman holding the lyrics at the singer's feet.

Oh, and there were politicians in attendance. Here's a shot of politician's row. Most of them didn't speak at all. Rep. Lynn mentioned that that very afternoon her sovereignty bill was going to be heard in committee and invited the crowd to attend. A partial list of the politicos in attendance:

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsay, Sen. Mae Beavers, Sen. Delores Gresham, Sen. Jack Johnson, Rep. Susan Lynn, Rep. Debra Maggart, Rep. Stacey Campfield, Metro. Councilman Dwayne Dominy.

My apologies to those I've omitted.

Attendees were charged with leaving this event and getting involved be it with their political party, some other organization or creating a new one---but don't let this momentum fizzle. I don't think it will.


virtualredhead said...

Rich sounded great, and that is one snappy red jacket, but the tea partiers might want to consider getting a different anthem,

Kay Brooks said...

I'm with you Virtual. I hadn't heard this song until that moment and I was surprised by the lyrics considering the context.