Thursday, April 01, 2010

Tea Party Report

I didn’t know there was a Tea Party protest in Denver yesterday. Not until Nick & Glenn started asking if I was going to make a misspelled sign and start screaming about birth certificates. Even then I didn’t plan on it. There have been things done at them ranging from ridiculous to alarming, and they’re generally reported to be convocations of racist, militia crazies brandishing moronic, misspelled signs and assault weapons. That’s not my scene, and not something I want to be involved with. But after all was just a mall ride away, and I figured I could go in the spirit of amateur photojournalism. And when it comes to a controversial subject there’s no substitute for seeing it yourself.

I got there fashionably late, about 45 minutes after it started. Just in time to catch the bus pulling out to park elsewhere.

I’d guess there were about 400 people there. I’m not great at estimating crowds though. I heard estimates from other non-experts ranging up to 1500.

I actually came across the counterprotestors standing out by Lincoln before I reached the main crowd. There weren’t too many of them – just these four, a pair of girls with a “Yes We Can” sign, and another guy with a “Support Our President” sign. I think these guys stood out by the street for the entire time.

I later came back down, and the guy with the “I [heart] Nancy Pelosi” sign told me Nancy Pelosi was “hot.” I laughed at that – I thought it was a joke! I mean come on, really? Nancy Pelosi hot? But he wasn’t kidding. I said it was a matter of opinion – he got a little snippy and agreed with that.

I didn’t want to record the whole thing live, so instead I made a point of photographing every sign I could. I figured that would capture some of the overall tone. By far the most common “sign” was the flag, followed by variations of the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, and then everything else.

I only spotted three signs with misspellings - the one above ("Ronald Reagen") and the two pictured below ("shreded", and, well, several).

For the most part the signs were concerned with taxes, big government, and “vote them out” themes. I expected more crazies – the Tea Party last April definitely had some. As it turns out, I saw two Birthers, and a one other crazy (shown above). If you want to check for more, I’ve posted at least one copy of every sign I shot on SmugMug.

I thought the tone generally was restrained for a political protest. There was a lot of cheering and such, but I didn’t hear anything violent, racist or otherwise out of line. Considering that protestors are by definition unhappy about something, I really expected more anger.

I spent a while talking to this vendor. He’s out of work, so he printed up some shirts and stickers and has been following the Tea Party Bus Tour around. I asked a few questions trying to compare this demonstration to the others he’s seen. It sounds like they’re generally comparable – about the same size and generally the same tone. Admittedly a limit sample, but still interesting I think. Since I wasted some of his time, I should at plug his website, I figure about two of my readers might actually be interested.

The main takeaway for me was that by and large these people did not look or act like crazies. There was no frothing at the mouth, screaming, racism, or anything like that. Maybe that sort of thing was going on at some of the other protests, but I didn’t see anything like that here.

Obviously many people disagree with the political points these people are making. But based on my experience I’m going to be more skeptical about the negative reports about the Tea Partiers.

P.S. The was mostly written immediately after the protest - I delayed posting it because SmugMug was having network problems so I could not host the photos until tonight.


Montana said...

I love that they asked for “Public Defenders”, now they know about the undercover FBI agent. The simpleton Tea baggers keep missing the point. These are the same whiners that were crying when the McCain/Bailin ticket lost. Now they are crying again because their yelling (because they are haters not debaters) did not stop health care from passing. They think they can scare, intimidate and force others to go along with them by comments like “This time we came unarmed”, let me tell you something they are not the only ones that are armed and not all ex-military join the fringe militia crazies who don’t pay taxes and run around with face paint in the parks playing commando, the majority are mature and understand that the world is more complicated and grey then the black and white that these simpleton make it out to be and that my friend is the point. Do not cry when regular people openly laugh at your group when they see on TV that your leaders are Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and that turn coat Glenn Beck from the LDS. They do more to discredit you on TV (powerful) than any of my comments do in the blog sphere.

BeaKeR said...

I'm not quite sure where to even begin to respond to that rant. Perhaps you should get a blog of your own?

Even after reading past the misspellings and random topic changes, all I can really glean from that is a general feeling of hatred and derision. Which strikes me as ironic after the "they are haters" comment. Other than that, I don't have too much else to say.

At least we can agree on one thing - the TV personalities do more to discredit the Tea Party movement than your comment does.

Nick Harris said...

Glad you went Brian. And thanks for writing this up. Glenn and I only tease cause, well, we're not creative enough to come up with anything new.

My Dad has been going to Tea Party meetups for close to a year now so I get to hear a lot of what goes on in the smaller groups that don't make these headlines. They are the down to earth people who really care and aren't the over the top crazies that get shown on the news. I'm glad that crowd is a large majority at these public protests as well.

Tim Bailen said...

Thanks for sharing your experience Brian.

BeaKeR said...

Thanks for letting me know you guys read it.

In related news, and to Nick's point about "down to earth people", there's a Gallup poll that says they're demographically pretty representative.

I can think of some other interesting things I'd have liked to see in that poll, but it's interesting nonetheless.