Given that Republican allegiance to balanced budgets rarely survives from election day to arriving in Washington there's no one obvious to turn to. So people are organizing grassroots protests for fiscal restraint and individual responsibility. This has been named the "Tea Party" movement in memory of the Revolutionary War tax protest. After some successful protests (including one in Fort Worth) people decided to have a coordinated nationwide protest on April 15th--the Tax Day Tea Parties.
I went to the Fort Worth Tea Party tonight. The organizers rented the local baseball stadium and we filled it. The estimate from the stage was 5000 people attending. I didn't try to count them, but you can if you like:
There were lots of Gadsden ("don't tread on me") flags. It seemed like at least a quarter of the crowd had brought a handmade sign to wave. Some Christian and Libertarian groups had booths set up in the corner. We were asked to sign an anti-bailout petition using computer terminals. I suspect I'll be getting some fund raising mail from that.
These guys were keeping in the original spirit of the event:
The headline speaker was Governor Perry, appearing at his third tea party of the day. He hit hard on themes of small government, Texas self-reliance, and the 10th Amendment, which got a great response from the crowd. He made a point of acknowledging that the Tea Party movement is not a Republican one but a non-partisan one (this one was organized by the local Reps, but most organizers have been independents). He's running very hard to get to the front of this parade, with good reason. Lots of people are fed up with the Republican failure to actually deliver on small government. Rick Perry is scared of people like this leaving his party in droves.
Let's not forget that the Republican Party owes its existence to the vacuum left by the collapse of the Whigs. I could see that history repeating itself with a "leave me alone" party springing up to fight against increasing government power.
Our other elected guest was Congressman Joe Barton. He talked up his history in fighting for a balanced budget and vowed to fight against the carbon cap and trade system Obama is proposing (that would be a huge tax increase on everyone, even if the source of the price increases is carefully hidden from the consumer).
My Congresswoman, earmark-happy Kay Granger, didn't show. Maybe she's bashful about going places she wants to drown.
The spots with good acoustics were full by the time I got there so I had a hard time hearing the other speakers.
The crowd demographics had changed some from the February event (on top of being 6+ times larger). We had a lot more 20-somethings and people who were new to political events. Hardly any signs accusing Obama of being a Marxist this time, and the secessionists were off having an event of their own. We did get some of the birth certificate conspiracy nonsense from the musical entertainment, sigh. Local candidates were trying to get votes with Clyde Picht making the biggest impression with a banner towed by a circling plane. The signs were mostly anti-spending, including mine.