Wishful thinking: “DC Tea Party Rally Bombs”


Yesterday, Tea Party Patriots was joined by nearly 10,000 activists on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Despite a hot, humid day and the difficulties of taking time off of work in the middle of the work week, activists showed they are not going to stand for IRS and other government intimidation and abuse any longer.

The day was a resounding success by all relevant measures, which is why this assessment by one popular liberal website was so humorous: “DC Tea Party Rally Bombs.”

First, and most ridiculously, the article estimates 5,000 to 10,000 people attended the rally, and thus it was a failure. Consider that a rally by Occupy Wall Street protestors at the height of their movement only managed to garner 100 rally attendees, while another Occupy-related rally organized for six months in 2011 gathered only “scores” of attendees. Six thousand people attended a gun control rally in January 2013.

We’ve established that the rally was a success by all normal relevant measures of rally attendance in Washington. Yet according to the aforementioned website’s author, one Jason Easley, the rally was a failure because:

  • It had fewer attendees than Glenn Beck’s August 2010 rally in D.C. (Easley must not have been paying attention to his typing as well as his facts – his article says Beck’s rally was in April 2010.) Let’s remember that Beck’s 2010 rally took place when Beck had command of one of the Top Three cable shows in the country at Fox News, and had Sarah Palin speaking. It was also only months after Obamacare was passed, and barely two months prior to the 2010 elections.
  • The first photo with “all the green grass” was at the beginning  of the rally – I arrived approximately 25 minutes before the rally began from a prior engagement, and that view is about right. Never mind that further into the rally, once attendees from the immigration rally on the East Lawn of the Capitol took a several-hour break and others arrived, that green grass was filled with people. Furthermore, “green grass” is irrelevant to the actual size of a rally – it’s a rhetorical and visual gimmick. Numbers are numbers, regardless of how they may or may not appear.
  • Easley compares this rally to the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally of 2010. I attended that rally, and it was indeed gigantic. However, the Tea Party rally yesterday was promoted largely through e-mail and word of mouth. The Colbert/Stewart rally was organized by two very popular cable show hosts, as well as by cable king Bill O’Reilly and others. For months.
  • Easley never acknowledges that this rally was organized in a mere 13 days. 13 days!!!! Again, mostly through e-mail and word of mouth. True grassroots organization, even despite the Capitol Police slow-walking the approval process – it took Tea Party Patriots asking a Member of Congress to intervene to actually get the permit, after weeks of delay.  Then the Capitol Police tried to prevent citizens arriving for the rally from going to the Member of Congress-organized immigration rally on the East Lawn.
  • Easley claims release of the full transcripts of IRS-related data by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) show the IRS scandal really was a low-level issue. This is a complete falsehood, as evidenced by dozens of Tea Party groups targeted across the country (something a low-level, small group of employees could never do), or that at least one low-level staffer said nothing happens at low levels without guidance from Washington. Or that one official who knew about the controversy, Lois Lerner, used her 5th Amendment rights to not testify to Congress about the controversy  and high-ranking IRS officials knew of the scandal for over a year and either misled or lied to Congress about it.
  • Easley writes “If this rally was supposed to be a sign of tea party strength for 2014, the Republican Party may be in a lot of trouble.” If the Tea Party was in the business of supporting the GOP, he would be right. As was stated many times at yesterday’s rally, though, we are in the business of saving America, not positioning one corrupt political party over another. We support principles, not political parties and we have the primary elections to show for it.

Oh, and the rally wasn’t meant as a sign of anything for 2014. Easley’s presumption is clearly wishful thinking on his part.

  • Easley’s piece closes by saying “The Tea Party is still dead, and not even the bogus IRS scandal can bring it back.” Nearly 10,000 attendees who took time off from work to travel many hours on the road and through airports for one or more days are part of a dead movement? Somehow, I doubt it. Mike Needham from Heritage Action put it best, “The TeaParty is far from dead and it is us who will write the obituary for big government.”

Furthermore, if the Tea Party is weakened compared to 2010, Easley really should consider the impact of the IRS scandal on this alleged state of existence. With dozens of groups spending money, time, and other resources on the IRS’ immoral and illegal questions, those are resources that would have been spent on issue awareness in 2011 and 2012. Other groups chose not to become non-profits because of the IRS’ treatment of their Tea Party brethren, thus harming their impact in 2012. Still, others halted their fundraising efforts because of their lack of non-profit status due to IRS harassment, while others saw fundraising and membership drives damaged by the IRS investigations.

Had the IRS not been acting unethically and illegally, the Tea Party would have had an even greater impact in 2012, sending candidates to Washington who would limit the elites’ power. In short, anyone who considers the Tea Party weakened while ignoring the practical implications of the IRS scandal is living in a fantasy world.

One final note: I don’t know Jason Easley, but media reach is often a measure of the success of a rally or other large gathering of people. Occupy, for example, never had many participants, but was considered successful solely because the mainstream media promoted it. Let’s look at a sampling of who reported on yesterday’s rally…

CNN, Slate, Talking Points Memo, Breitbart, Politico, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, Fox News, and Mediaite. And that’s without trying hard. So by measure of media coverage – including Jenny Beth’s interviews with CNN and other organizations yesterday – the rally was nothing but a success.

Jason Easley needs to stop drinking the Beltway  Kool-Aid.