The tea party has something in common with fine wine: it gets better with age. This year’s 9/12 rally came replete with the types of moveable signs that were clearly crafted with care and the types of activists who are quick on their feet with chants and chatter. It was all sponsored in large part by FreedomWorks, a non-profit organization that fights for limited government, and serves as a central force for a strictly volunteer tea-party army.
“There is only one power on this earth big enough to destroy this country,” said FreedomWorks chairman and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, during the Capitol rally. “That is government. Our founding fathers knew that and feared that. That’s why they wrote the Constitution.”
The turnout at Sunday’s 9/12 march was smaller than the number of people who had attended last year’s blockbuster 9/12 rally, possibly due to the fact that Glenn Beck had sucked up the energy of some tea partiers at his 8/28 “Restoring Honor” rally two weeks ago. Also affecting turnout was the weather: a steady drizzle dampened the event from the start of the day until about an hour before it ended. Considering those two factors, the turnout was indeed impressive, according to Freedomworks president Matt Kibbe.
“Is there anyone here who is going to let the rain dampen their plans to take their country back? Is there anyone here who is going to let the rain dampen their plans to remember in November?” he asked. The questions were met with a resounding “no” from the crowd.
The 9/12 march began at the Washington Monument, with a non-denominational religious service starting at 10am, and then a line-up of speakers from local activists groups. Then, the attendees swarmed down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Hill and set up camp in front of Congress, where they stayed until 5pm.
The kitsch factor was high. A sign-making event put on by FreedomWorks on Saturday resulted in the kind of elaborate displays that have come to symbolize the creativity and energy of tea party activists, including 3-d representations of tar and feathers, and a sign that featured President Obama's moveable mouth.
The march was also highly politicized, with a theme of “Remember November,” in reference to the upcoming mid-term elections. Most speakers stuck to that theme on podiums in front of the Capitol and the Washington Monument, and the crowd seemed to have it on repeat. Armey referenced the importance of the elections by pointing to the many primary elections that the tea party has influenced, such as Joe Miller in Alaska.
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