Tea Parties Protest Stimulus
David Samo has the best explanation I’ve seen thus for of the bizarre “tea party” phenomenon:
In the latest example of how user-produced media can capture so-called “massively-shared” events in a way mainstream media can’t, a wave of images, blog posts and videos from a nationwide protest has been washing across the Web. The protests, dubbed “tea parties” by participants, were held Friday in several U.S. cities including Portland and Washington, D.C. as a response to what demonstrators see as unfettered spending and encroaching government as represented by President Obama’s economic recovery plans.
The tea parties were catalyzed by the widely seen screed by CNBC personality Rick Santelli, in which he jokingly suggested he’d organize a Chicago tea party to protest what he saw as the president’s plan to “subsidize the losers’ mortgages.”
The idea is a reference to the Boston Tea Party, the famous revolutionary-era event in which American colonists dumped British tea into the Boston Harbor to protest oppressive taxation policies by the British government.
Though even a year ago it would’ve been a slow and difficult process to chronicle a widely scattered protest such as this, the online community is now mastering the art of high-speed media sharing, a trend that can unite geographically disparate communities via the Web. Much of the sharing is now facilitated by the fast-growing messaging site Twitter, where today the keyword “teaparty” was one of the most frequently used terms. Users sent out a flurry of updates about attendance, links to photos on Flickr and Photobucket, and videos on YouTube and other sites.
But here’s the thing: The original Boston Tea Party was a protest against taxation without representation. We now have representation. The people who passed the stimulus — the Democrats in the House and Senate and President Obama — were duly elected under the Constitution. For that matter, it’s not like something like this massive stimulus wasn’t discussed in the fall election campaign that put these people in charge. What they’re doing is not unprecedented nor unconstitutional in any current understanding.
What exactly is the point of these rallies?
Mind you, I opposed the stimulus. I voted against Obama and against both of the Democrats who now represent me in the Senate. I lost. I’m not happy about it but that’s how this game works.
Don’t like massive tax increases? Don’t like trillion dollar spending packages? All 435 Representatives and 33 Senators are up for election in November 2010. Vote them out and replace them with people who’ll cut your taxes and lower spending.
UPDATE: Rick Moran offers a stirring defense of Tea Party Mania that has me this close to reconsidering my position.