That was then (the first Oklahoma City Tea Party rally, Feb. 27, 2009):
and this is now:
We had around
3000 5000 show up today at the south steps of the State Capitol (maybe more – one of the local TV stations sent their helicopter to cover the rally). The organizers were hoping for 1000, and I think it’s fair to say that no one, in their wildest dreams, expected this kind of turnout. The event was absolutely incredible.
I’ve been to a number of events at our state capitol (both legislative and general public) and I have never before seen the amount of traffic congestion, overflowing parking lots, or number of pedestrians that I saw around the capitol complex today. I’ll try to have some video up later that includes crowd sweeps, so readers can gauge the size of the crowds for themselves.
Meanwhile, if you’re still wondering what this whole thing is about then be sure to check out this Tea Party primer written by Michelle Malkin, which chronicles all the events starting with the home-grown protest in Seattle on February 16, through the famous Rick Santelli CNBC rant on Feb. 19, the first nation-wide Tea Party day on Feb. 27, and all of the other events that eventually led up to today’s mass nationwide effort.
The Tea Party Day website says that over 2000 Tea Parties were scheduled for today. If average attendance is 500 for each of these (and I have already seen multiple reports of large Tea Party rallies attracting 3000 – 5000 or more) then we could have well over a million in combined attendance nationwide. What an incredible contrast to the measly 200,000+ signatures that Organizing for America managed to get in favor of the Obama tax and spend and spend some more budget plan — and that was after working over 13 million registered Obama supporters!
They will mock and ridicule and pretend to ignore this, but right now a lot of Democrats have got to be scared out of their wits.
(More comments plus video links after the jump…)
Commenter (and self-confessed “liberal troll”) Bruce Henry says, “right now, you guys got nothin’.” He is right about the fact that the Tea Party movement doesn’t have a cult figure leader like Barack Obama (or Louis Farrakhan, for the “Million Man March”) — in fact, RNC Chair Michael Steel was denied permission to speak at today’s Chicago Tea Party. Our Oklahoma City organizer, Alan Webb, also politely refused requests by local politicians who wanted to address the crowd. Today’s protest, he said, was so that politicians could listen to the people, and not the other way around.
At this point it’s hard to predict what will come out of the Tea Party movement. In my opinion, Tea Party organizers would do well to keep this a grassroots effort and resist the advances of the Republican party (we all know the Dems won’t touch these rallies with a 10 ft. pole). I am convinced that once the Democratic party took over the grassroots/”Netroots” movement (or did the Netroots take over the Democrats? I’m always confused about this …) the grassroots Left lost much of its momentum and genuine excitement. And now that their guy is in the White House, liberal grassroots organizing efforts are falling flat.
So to anyone wanting to organize the Tea Party movement on a national scale, I’ll say again, listen first, before you do anything else. Organize the movement around the main themes that supporters continually express. You will lose some of the fringe, but that comes with the territory of organizing. Do not force a political agenda on the supporters, and do not trick supporters into becoming bought-and-paid-for shills of any political party. Make politicians listen to the group and agree to its platform, and not the other way around.
Here is some video from today’s OKC rally. The rally’s organizers encouraged ordinary citizens to write opinions and email them to the organizing committee. At the rally, Dan Ward read comments sent in my men, and Julie Henry read the comments sent in by women. Some were funny, some were critical, but all echoed frustration and disappointment with the current direction that our DC leadership is taking our country.
Here are some of the comments that Dan read. There is a crowd sweep beginning around 2:00, if you are interested in seeing how many people attended:
And here are some of the comments that Julie read: