I attended the Tea Party rally at the State Capital in Des Moines last Friday, my first. I had three specific things I was looking for:
- What is the single biggest issue of concern to this movement?
- How many people would show up?
- Are the people in this movement normal?
Let me answer these questions in reverse order. Yes, the people in attendance were normal. I wanted to see for myself, because Speaker Pelosi and President Obama suggest otherwise.
It is true that they recited the Pledge of Allegiance without flinching. And they belted out a heartfelt rendition of the National Anthem. Are those normal occurrences at rallies attended by liberals? Perhaps.
One fellow had a small American flag protruding from his hat. The overall sense that I had from the crowd is that they love America.
The Des Moines Register reported that about 1200 people attended the rally. Sounds good. It’s hard to estimate large crowds for me. The group was energized by the speakers, passionate about the message.
So what is the message? Is there a single theme? Yes.
The Tea Party Movement is all about independence.
The speakers talked about the size of government, about runaway government spending, about government intrusion into our lives in ways never intended by the Founding Fathers. To quote Ronald Reagan, they want big government off their backs.
Ultimately, they agree with the first Democratic President, Thomas Jefferson, who said the government that governs least governs best.
Ultimately, they believe a government governs best when it makes people stronger by breeding independence.
Ultimately, they believe that the current direction of the country is exactly wrong, that we are weakening the very fiber of America by breeding government dependence.
I saw several Republican candidates at the rally. However, Republicans would be sadly mistaken if they think this is a Republican crowd. The Tea Party exists partly because Republicans didn’t act like Republicans when they controlled the Congress and the White House.
A reminder to Republicans: President Obama is still more popular than you according to the RealClearPolitics polling averages (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/).
Republicans can pick up a lot of Tea Party votes if they act like Republicans. If they regain power, will they exhibit the same political resolve that Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi have demonstrated in advancing their big government agenda?