White supremacists. Right wing extremists. That’s who the Mainstream Mouthpiece Media said would be attending the Tea Party Rallies held nationwide in many major cities. I had to see for myself. So, strictly for professional reasons of course, I attended the Tea Party in Atlanta on April 15 as an unofficial roving reporter for the local newspaper.
The Atlanta Tea Party was much bigger and more inspiring than I imagined on my way there. Luminaries such as gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine took the stage followed later by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Radio personalities Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz, and others appeared with local State Senators and Representatives. Ray McBerry a candidate for Governor was there to introduce himself to an enthusiastic crowd – but off to one side. Oddly, he was never invited on stage even though he has long been a supporter of lowering taxes and reducing federal government interference in Georgia state affairs. In fact, he is also a strong states rights advocate.
But the real story was about the people themselves as 15,000 black, white, red, & yellow skinned Americans applauded and cheered as each new speaker exhorted the crowd to stay together and work to end the oppressive cycle of ever increasing taxes and regulations. Men in expensive suits stood next to biker types. One man sported a curious collection of silver studs in his ears and a diverse collection of tattoos. He whooped and hollered at chants of ‘USA’ and ‘Don’t tread on me’. An Hispanic lady with her 2 young children stood politely but attentively in front of me while an African-American couple cheered off to my left. Rich and poor, black and white, old and young, male and female – they all got up off their easy chairs and made the trip to Atlanta to be heard. Their message – we’re tired of government taking our liberties and forcing oppressive taxation on us. We’re fed up with government deficit spending that will leave our children and grandchildren in huge debt.
There were signs as far as the eye could see. Some were basic: “Cut Taxes”, “Fair Tax” (I still don’t get that one – is there such a thing as a fair tax?), “Term Limits” and “You can’t spend your way out of debt”. A few brave folks carried signs that said, “Abolish the IRS”. You saw the predictable, “Keep your change, Obama”. Then there were the humorous. “No more spendulus”. And my favorite, “PECAN – People for an Ethical Conservative American Nation”. I guess that was their response to ACORN.
Atlanta joined an estimated 1,000,000 people in 50 states across the US – all with the same message. On April 15, 2009, a diverse group of Americans stood up together to protest an increasingly oppressive federal government despite the efforts of some in the news media to divide everybody up. It was not about Republicans or Democrats or partisan politics. It was about an American public rising up to defend our Constitution and our liberties. Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson is smiling.