Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tax Day Becomes Protest Day

Glenn Reynolds, a.k.a., Instapundit, has been a tremendous resource for information on the Tea Party phenomenon shaking the political system. His readers fill his inbox with the latest information on anti-tax protests from around the country, and I've posted on a few of the events here.

Well, it turns out that the Professor's published an essay on this at the Wall Street Journal, "
Tax Day Becomes Protest Day." Here's the introduction:

Today American taxpayers in more than 300 locations in all 50 states will hold rallies - dubbed "tea parties" - to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending. There is no political party behind these rallies, no grand right-wing conspiracy, not even a 501(c) group like MoveOn.org.

So who's behind the Tax Day tea parties? Ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize. For a number of years, techno-geeks have been organizing "flash crowds" -- groups of people, coordinated by text or cellphone, who converge on a particular location and then do something silly, like the pillow fights that popped up in 50 cities earlier this month. This is part of a general phenomenon dubbed "Smart Mobs" by Howard Rheingold, author of a book by the same title, in which modern communications and social-networking technologies allow quick coordination among large numbers of people who don't know each other.

In the old days, organizing large groups of people required, well, an organization: a political party, a labor union, a church or some other sort of structure. Now people can coordinate themselves.

We saw a bit of this in the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, with things like Howard Dean's use of Meetup, and Barack Obama's use of Facebook. But this was still social-networking in support of an existing organization or campaign. The tea-party protest movement is organizing itself, on its own behalf. Some existing organizations, like Newt Gingrich's American Solutions and FreedomWorks, have gotten involved. But they're involved as followers and facilitators, not leaders. The leaders are appearing on their own, and reaching out to others through blogs, Facebook, chat boards and alternative media.
Read the entire essay at the link, and also at Memeorandum.

I got home earlier this evening from an organizing meeting of the leaders of the
Orange County National Tax Day Tea Party. It's been a long time since I attended a function of local political activists (outside of my college related activities), and I can attest to Reynolds' insights: He's right on when he says that ordinary folks "are using the power of the Internet to organize."

I'll be writing a report on tomorrow's Orange County Tea Party for Pajamas Media. Actually, while the biggest event is scheduled for Santa Ana, there's a number of other scheduled protests around the county. Folks are excited about tomorrow, but there's already a tremendous buzz about additional protests scheduled for July 4th and beyond.

I do think there's a canny coincidence to the release of the Obama adminisration's DHS "right-wing extremism" report. Leftists are getting a gas out of all of this, but
a close look at the document reveals how ridiculously politicized it is. I expect a backlash to the administration's public relations on both the report and the protests, particularly after the national media covers tomorrow's demonstrations, and with the poliltical talk shows chewing on the implications on through Sunday at least.

Tune in tomorrow here at the blog, folks. I should have a lot of good stuff coming down the pipeline. In the meantime, check out Jeff Emanuel, "
Revolution Rekindled: Tea Party Movement Blossoms," and Bill Whittle, "Why You Should Attend a Tea Party."


Ju said...

What was probably the icing on the cake for the tea parties was when Rick Perry, Texas' governor stated that Texas can secede from the union. That will draw a lot of attention but more importantly it sends the message that these movements are serious for such strong words to be used. While the media will say they Texas does not have the right to do this outright (there are some court cases which agree, there are certain paths they can take to get this goal).

While they do not have the right to do this outright, there are certain paths they can take to get this goal. Come on, you know this is possible because this is the same country which gives exceptions to tax cheats through cleaver legal

Really it is just using the legal system creatively.

Texas probably has the best chance at success. Here is just one way how it can work. The annexation agreement made when Texas joined the union provided that Texas would be able to divide into 5 states. This would create 8 more conservative Senators.

If Texas were to try to divide and be rebuffed, the US would be in violation of the agreement and Texas should be able to go free.

It is not all that far fetched.

Regardless of the TX situation, the movement was larger than expected. And it is just a start because the thing about grass roots is that it will only take hold, grow and spread.

Some pics here: