Yesterday, as I was writing about the decline of the Tea Party, that very Tea Party was in Washington, proving me right. AMERICAblog's Joe Sudbay posted this press release earlier this week, announcing a big rally in DC:
Tea Party Patriots, the nation's largest grassroots organization, today announced that it will hold its first "Continuing Revolution Rally" outside of the U.S. Capitol challenging Congress and the members it helped sweep into power to take swift action on the budget. Tea Party stars in Congress such as Reps. Mike Pence and Michele Bachmann will join thousands of Tea Party activists to send a message to the rest of Washington. Thursday's rally is co-sponsored by Let Freedom Ring, the Institute for Liberty, and Smart Girl Politics.
“Members of Congress have abandoned their service to the people by passing continuing resolutions instead of cutting the $100 billion they pledged," said Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin, National Coordinators of the Tea Party Patriots. "Is it lack or leadership? Is it a lack of courage? A real budget will spark a national debate on the role of government, and that's what the American people want."
While the press release promised "thousands of Tea Party activists," all angry that the GOP isn't eager to shut down government, the rally didn't deliver.
In a later piece on the rally itself, Sudbay offered the lowball figure -- 100 in attendance. Talking Points Memo gives the high estimate of 300, with the caveat that "a hefty portion" of the rally-goers were actually media people covering the event. Dave Weigel splits the difference with his estimate of 200, but confirms TPM's reporting of overcoverage, saying "there seemed to be around four protesters for every reporter."
Whatever the concrete number, it's clear that the call went out to thousands of patriots and tens of dozens answered. This was not good. For their part, Fox News blamed the weather -- which was kind of grey and damp and early springlike. When the weather was quite literally freezing, Wisconsin managed to turn out 100,000 -- a crowd larger than any 'bagger rally in the history of 'bagger rallies -- but a little drizzle and springlike temperatures and teabaggers can't scare up half a thousand. Patriots sure have changed a lot since Valley Forge, huh?
It's looking more and more like the Tea Party was a flash in the pan. And now they're overrepresented in congress. The House of Representatives is now driven by a group that represents a tiny portion of the American public. If they think the Tea Party has their backs, they're sadly mistaken. The whole thing seems to have evaporated in a post-election America -- probably because the vast majority of 'baggers were promised simpleminded quick fixes. So, they elected Republicans; fix done. Back to American Idol. When you aim your appeal straight toward that segment of the population with the attention span of a goldfish, you really shouldn't be surprised when they lose interest. These people can't even be bothered to check to see whether their taxes have increased or decreased before going out and protesting taxation. It's amazing that people this lazy ever got out into the streets at all.
The whole thing will probably swell up again in 2012, but I think the days of giant rallies and big marches are over. Some won't be happy to learn that their quick fix didn't fix anything, others will have wised up, and most will have lost interest. Changing America is a long haul and I don't think these people have the stamina for it.