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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Denver Tax Day Tea Party

The Denver Tax Day Tea Party was a limited success. People flowed over the capitol steps down to the street below. The Denver Post estimates a crowd of "more than 5,000." Sounds like a fair guess to me. I'll post my initial thoughts for now (at about 2:40); later I'll add extensive photographs and audio interviews of the event. (I'll create a second post.)

I got there about 10:15. I would have arrived earlier had I realized my good friend Michael Huttner was putting on a 10:00 news conference in praise of President Obama's policies.

The audio system was inadequate for the crowd. I heard perhaps a minute of the speeches. Those on the upper steps and away from the loudspeakers could hear practically nothing of the official program. I figured others were capturing the audio of the speakers, so I could work the periphery. I conducted numerous short interviews with ralliers and took even more photos. My goal was to see what the typical person who showed up thought about things.

In the course of this, I also ran across a few people with off-topic messages, particularly in opposition to immigration and abortion (as I predicted here and here).

The basic message of most of the ralliers that I talked with is that they're tired of out-of-control federal spending and disgusted with the debt passed on to their children and grandchildren. A few people had more to say about state policy as well.

I had a very nice conversation with a Democratic couple that came to see what the conservatives were up to. Though we disagree about economic policy and the proper role of government, we also found some common ground and had a nice chat (that will go online).

At one point I saw some young kids wearing masks and carrying "end the Fed" signs. I got the photo, as I wanted to show the goofiness as well as the typical rallier. (I disfavor the Federal Reserve, but I don't think wearing silly masks to a rally will help the cause.) I saw a well-dressed young guy approach the kids with another fellow operating a high-end video camera. It was pretty obvious where that was headed. Indeed, soon the guy conducting the interviews started the chant, "end the Fed," which the kids were happy to take up enthusiastically. Clearly this was not a real news crew. Nevertheless, the fellow conducting video interviews and I had a fairly interesting conversation, which we both recorded.

As I mentioned to a friend, my two biggest concerns with the rally were that it was fairly partisan (even though two Republicans I talked with actually presented the strongest criticisms of W. Bush), and it contained some mixed messages. While anti-immigration and anti-abortion messages constituted a small part of what I saw, clearly there remain some serious rifts within the conservative or broadly "right" movement. (I think it's a mistake to call my beliefs either conservative or right-wing, but I do have many conservative friends -- as I have leftist friends -- and others tend to lump me in with the right because I advocate free markets.)

I took off around 1:15, though the speakers were still at it. Note to rally organizers: don't plan a rally that includes more that 45 minutes of speaking, especially on a hot day. A lot of people were leaving with me. I was getting a little dehydrated, too, and I had water in my car.

It's going to take me awhile to process my digital files, so check back later...

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Wayne Laugesen said...

Ari, congrats on your award which is very well deserved. I have an editorial about the Colorado Springs protest and others that your readers might find interesting. It lightly chastises conservatives for politicizing socialist policies largely initiated by Republicans. It's at: http://www.gazette.com/opinion/government_51901___article.html/spending_conservatives.html

April 15, 2009 11:58 PM  
Anonymous Mason said...

Ari,

First of all, I would like to say I am not trying to start an argument. In fact, I would like to further our converstaion if possible. However, I ask you to stay centered when you read my response to the "silly mask" wearing "kids" at the protest.

It is a wonder ANY of the protest-radicals at the tea party would have a problem with kids wearing bandanas.

To clear things up, I was one of the bandana-clad protestors. I am 21 years old, and I own an internet advertising company. I paid more in taxes this year than most of the sunshine patriots that showed up on wednsday ($177,000 to be exact). I had EVERY right to wear a bandana.

I ask myself why the republicans lost the election in November.

THIS is why

If the people cannot see that an ENEMY of their ENEMY is their FRIEND, then how the hell is anyone going to make progress?

We were their supporting a similar cause. WE WERE NON-VIOLENT. We were also among the ONLY people at the protest with a NON-PARTISAN approach.

You should be slandering the people who allowed the press to make the event into an ANTI-OBAMA protest

...which it was not

Clinton opened the sub-prime market dilemma with the gramm-leach-bliley act

Bush pushed our spending into overdrive with the wars (not even going to mention the anti-american patriot acts)
Bush also started the BAILOUTS, long before there was a bailout big enough to be called THE BAILOUT

Obama pushed it over the edge with the Stimulus.

And we QUICKLY figured out what the camerman was doing. WE started chanting END THE FED when he made an attempt to be a comedian.

Remember...

The ORIGINAL Boston Tea Party radicals dressed up as Native American Indians

We're we THAT ridiculous dressing up as bankers?

Looking forward to have an intelligent conversation with you.

Best Regards,
Mason

April 17, 2009 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Mason said...

Ari,

Can you post your contact information? Again, I would like to start a conversation that was missing the day of the tea party.

Best Regards,
Mason

April 17, 2009 11:42 AM  
Blogger Ari said...

My e-mail is listed on my web page.

Calling you "silly" hardly falls under the category of slander.

I'm glad you made a bunch of money, and I recognize your right to every dollar you earned.

I do not question your right to be there or to wear a bandana.

My point pertains to the effectiveness of your message. Are you going to persuade anyone, with those signs and masks, that the Federal Reserve is a bad idea? The answer is no. Resoundingly no. All you're going to do is convince people who see your photo all over the place that you're a bunch of unserious kids with a goofy message. If you want to convince people, come out with normal attire and a good argument.

The Boston Tea Party was against British oppression. Today we're challenging our misguided fellow Americans. Tailor your message appropriately.

I appreciate your enthusiasm. I ask only that you think about how to direct your enthusiasm to the most productive ends. Is your goal to get attention, or to make a difference?

April 17, 2009 12:03 PM  
Blogger Fester said...

If these "kids" were wearing bandannas across their faces, I think it is completely appropriate. First off the bandanna is the traditional mask for the robbers of the old west, and the federal reserve and the government are the ones robbing us blind now. Secondly, I don't believe it is any secret these days that everyone who is against the governments unjust actions are now considered to be potential "terrorists" as was acknowledged my the MAIC report, and as you probably remember Denver is notorious for its "spy" files which mostly consisted of documenting every person who showed up to a protest. It seems to me that it only makes good sense to make it as hard for the government to identify you if you are truly presenting an anti-government message. If you are just a republican apologist then you don't have anything to worry about, but if you truly believe that the state is the enemy then why make it easy for them to identify you, just so they can put you on there no fly list, and start to build a "spy" file on you?

April 18, 2009 5:02 PM  
Blogger Ari said...

Look, if you don't want to take the risk of getting tracked by government agents, and you don't care anything about presenting your message to the public in a way that doesn't completely alienate people, then the answer is simple: don't come to a public rally. You're simultaneously hurting your cause AND risking government tracking.

I know full well about the Denver "spy files" -- I was in them. My attitude is that I sincerely hope the Denver police, FBI, CBI, and every other possible government agency is reading my web page -- they just might learn something.

But if you really think coming to a rally wearing masks and yelling "end the fed" is actually going to do anything to reform the Federal Reserve, you're just an idiot, and I'm simply too busy to devote more time to you.

April 19, 2009 11:27 PM  

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