I didn’t go to the Tea Party rally yesterday, because I don’t agree with the Tea Party and I don’t agree with the counter-protestors. (In the immortal words of Kelly Taylor, I choose me.)
I would like to clarify a couple of assertions by Tea Partiers that were reported by Shaun Sutner (behind the paywall). That is:
Ken Mandile of Webster, leader of the Worcester Tea Party, said he thought the small crowd resulted largely from the Patriot’s Day holiday when most people had to work, lack of a headline speaker, and no major galvanizing national event even though the government’s near-shutdown earlier this month was a big tea party cause.
The turnout yesterday was estimated at 200, which is less than 10% of last year’s turnout.
I would venture a guess that the small crowd was not because it was held on a holiday when “most people had to work.” Last year’s rally was on April 15, a Thursday (and, presumably, a work day); in 2009, the rally was also held on April 15, which was a Wednesday (which we can also presume was a work day).
I would also guess that the lack of a headline speaker was not what drew people in prior years. In 2010, the compelling speakers included Carla Howell. And in 2009, the big speaker, as far as I can tell from the coverage, was State Rep. Paul K. Frost.
I don’t keep up with Tea Party activities very closely, but I would guess that the problem is that the original message (that is, anti-tax/anti-large government spending) has ballooned into something entirely different: that is, a catch-all for general malaise in the same way that the Reform Party was in the 90s.
That is, there are plenty of folks who oppose some form of big government, but who don’t think immigration is the biggest problem this country is facing and/or who aren’t necessarily interested in making folks show IDs to vote. (Yes, for those of you who are interested, there will be a poll watcher/intimidator training on Saturday in Southbridge.)
Speaking of voting, does a reader know if Worcester posts the Massachusetts voters’ bill of rights in polling stations? (I’m usually rushing in with a child and have a tough enough time remembering which ward and precinct line to get in that I don’t look around to see if we do.)