At the 9/12 rally in Washington D.C., sales the organizers had a message for all elected politicians: vote against the Democrats, but don’t let Republicans off the hook after November 3rd. FreedomWorks President Dick Armey expressed this in one of the earlier opening speeches: “We’ve got the Republican Party’s attention” he said, referring to the victory of Tea Party candidates in GOP primaries.
FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe was even more blunt, referring to the last year as a “hostile takeover of the Republican Party” and lauded the Tea Party’s ability to be simultaneously partisan and larger than a political movement, “The Tea Party is better than a political party. It’s built on an idea…You can’t change the culture in Washington, but the Tea Party is changing the culture of America!”
The rally featured more members of the conservative movement as opposed to actual Republicans. Rep. Mike Pence did address the crowd, but even he made sure not to give his own party too much credit, “We don’t consent to runaway spending by either political party” he stated.
The only explicitly Republican meme that attendees and speakers referred to was “Remember November”, the pseudo-Guy Fawkes saying that was appropriated by the Republican Governor’s Association for a series of GOTV videos.
The speakers even ventured into territory that some of the more conservative members of the audience felt uncomfortable. Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico was introduced to the crowd as a fiscal conservative who vetoed hundreds of bills, and grew his state’s economy in the process. However, when his speech turned to the legalization of marijuana, reducing defense spending and pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, not everyone in the audience cheered; and a few even booed. (Though in general, there did seem to be a lot more agreement with Johnson on marijuana legalization.)
The majority of the speakers were either local Tea Party activists, or organizers who wanted to plug their particular Tea Party initiative. The “WeReadtheConstitution.com” website and the “Contract from America” got particularly large chunks of time in the schedule. Ryan Hecker, the spokesman for the “Contract from America” made sure to remind everyone to hold the “Republican elitists” accountable on November 3rd.
It seemed appropriate that on the same day that Tea Party activists were doing their best to focus on how they will hold Republicans accountable after the midterm election, House minority leader John Boehner indicated that he might be might be willing to vote for President Obama’s tax plan even if the plan did not extend the Bush tax-cuts for Americans in upper-income brackets. The activists may have spent the day denouncing politics as usual, but for now, politics as usual seems to still be the rule in Washington DC.
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