Independence Day TEA Parties

Suzann Darnall

Members of my family attended four TEA Parties in three states over two days. My brother, Jon, in New York City, July 1st; father, Curt, and my son-in-law, Clint, in Castle Rock, CO; and my husband, Pete, and I attended two at the San Marcos, TX courthouse and at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. Since my father, husband, and I'd attended Tax Day TEA Parties on April 15th, it was interesting to compare observations with Dad, finding many similarities.

I saw people angrier at politicians, across the board, than in April. They largely blame both Left and Right for the current problems with much animosity towards incumbents. If their anger continues unabated, I foresee many seats being filled with newly elected rumps come 2010 and 2012. Slogans and comments showing contempt for politics included: "Don't steal. Government hates the competition," "The United States Congress is a house of ill-repute," and "Washington: you're fired."

While there were still some of the same April 15th protesters, an added group seems a little quieter, but more intensely dissatisfied. I noticed differences in the overall tone of opinions and concerns. People were much more outspoken about their desires for more ethical and moral behavior from their politicians, and the inclusion of God and religion in our society. Some sentiments on signs, flags, and t-shirts included: "One nation under God," "America Bless God", and "My Savior is in Heaven, not Washington DC".

There was much more blatant patriotism and a call for a return to more traditional views. People seem especially concerned that our Constitution's being bypassed in the current DC political frenzy. Some signs and t-shirts expressed sentiments like, "Read the Constitution" and "Don't tread on the Constitution." At both of the gatherings my husband and I attended, patriotic songs were sung with tears in many eyes. Popular clothing was red, white & blue, with stars-&-stripes, eagles, or flags. Of course, being in Texas, there was an abundance of cowboy boots, Stetsons, big belt buckles and Levis, even if it was more than 100° on a summer day in the midst of a drought!

People were even more outspoken about their Second Amendment concerns than on Tax Day. There seems to be a deep rooted movement to acquire arms and ammunition, lest citizens be forced by government to defend their homes, families, and freedoms. This isn't something coming from extreme Right Wing radical survivalists, either. These are rational, hard-working, families of rather mainstream types. There were numerous signs and t-shirts bearing pictures of armament and declaring "Come & take it!" One front and back t-shirt was striking: (Front) pictures of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao with the phrase, "Mass murderers agree: Gun control works." (Back) "Politicians love unarmed peasants." There were variations of this theme on other shirts and signs.

Increased disdain for Obama was particularly evident, much more so than in April when people were still trying to give him a chance and blame it all on others. They now see him as either the ringleader of Congress' excesses or hopelessly incompetent to the task of reining in Congress' legislating spree. One of my personally favorite signs was, "It's 'We the people' NOT 'We the elected Almighty'." One speaker talked about "That's an Obama-Nation", after giving the definition of an abomination (mainly a disgusting evil). He taught the crowd a chant and received much applause and cheering. Another t-shirt said, "Don't blame me. I voted for the American." And, there were many boos whenever Obama was mentioned. What made this most significant were the varied political affiliations of the crowd members. They spanned Left to Right. There were Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, and Independents. But, mainly they're disgruntled Americans who just aren't going to take it anymore!

Another popular theme showing great concern was the economy and where it's headed. There's great concern about Obama's Socialist ideas and welfare mentality. Signs and slogans such as "Free Markets, Not Freeloaders," "Trickle Up Poverty." "Spread My Work Ethic, Not My Wealth," and many similar sentiments show strong opinion. Many Americans don't want to keep carrying the welfare lists on their backs. They want DC out of their wallets and off their payrolls.

Two very significant occurrences during the event in Austin were the speeches by Senator John Cornyn, R-TX, and Governor Rick Perry, R-TX. Senator Cornyn was practically booed off stage for supporting the initial stimulus package. He was heckled throughout his entire speech, except for the brief time when he was introducing a Purple Heart military veteran to thank him for his service. Comments from the crowd identified him very much as a Washington entity. On the other hand, Governor Perry, although it started off with many boos, was able to win over most of the crowd by stressing an "us versus them" relationship between Texas and DC. He got lots of cheers for suggesting that the Federal government use the Texas model for fiscal success. But, his real winner was about protecting our southern border. He made people see him as a Texan, just like them. While people don't want to completely do away with federal assistance, such as on the border, they do want to limit federal interference. There was very much an attitude of "y'all stay out of our business unless called for".

Obama's honeymoon seems to be over. More and more people are taking exception with his policies and implementation of said policies. People who've never before been involved in politics are becoming energized because they see tell-tale signs of threats to their "American way of life". An ever growing number feel America's headed in the wrong direction and they want this stopped immediately!

© Suzann C. Darnall, July 2009 REPRINT

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