As was probably true with most of the tea parties, the general spirit of the Sacramento Tea Party was a patriotic passion mixed with an urgent concern for our nation. Attendees’ extremely creative signs were witty and humorous, but they were also incisive in their criticism.
It’s noteworthy that despite the fact Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would probably classify most of the tea party participants as “extremists,” there was not one incident of violence or unrest. The only “extreme” behavior exhibited during the day (apart from the crowds’ exuberant chanting, “Vote them out!”) was the attempt by citizens to carry their American flags into the capitol.
Patriots at the event handed out hundreds of small American flags for attendees to wave. But capitol security refused entrance to anyone carrying one of the 3x3 inch flags, citing “security concerns.” Pressed for the law justifying their rule, security claimed capitol rules prohibit signs or banners from entering the building and the flags fell under that category. When told of the situation, Michael Reagan quipped, “It’s just the wrong flag!”
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time displays of patriotism from average citizens have been thwarted at the California State Capitol. Last July a group of high school students attending a youth leadership conference were confronted by armed guards after the students began singing the National Anthem in the capitol rotunda. The students were told they needed a government permit to sing in the capitol. These two instances of government bureaucracy and elitism at its worst are the very reason citizens are compelled to attend the tea parties.
California is known for chastising its elected officials when they break promises or defy the people’s will. Perhaps emotions can get the better of California voters, but often enough their emotions are channeled into good public policy. The removal of Governor Gray Davis for his deficit spending (a relatively paltry $38 billion!) was grassroots initiated and sustained. It was Californians who passed the revolutionary Proposition 13 back in 1978. Property taxes were out of control, so voters told government to stop gouging taxpayers.
California can and should lead the way in this burgeoning nationwide tax revolt. After all, we have the most to lose.