The Tea Parties

There hasn’t been much here on the Cato blog about the Tea Parties this week, so I thought I should write a bit about them.

A number of sources report around 750 individual events across the country, from small towns to big cities. Hundreds of thousands of people attended.

Many if not the vast majority of these people do not go to protests or even political rallies. My parents, who sent along the pictures below of the large rally in Cincinnati, do not do big crowds or political events. Neither do many of their friends. But they were there.

The general tenor and talk were non-partisan — people are angry at both political parties for many of the same reasons: spending, growth of government, and the ever-expanding reach of federal involvement in every aspect of our lives.

It’s not just the first months of the Obama presidency that produced this reaction among normal citizens who have never before come out for political protests. The frustration on display has been building for years under Republican control. The last sad gasp of the Bush administration bailouts and the explosion of previously inconceivable spending under a Democrat-controlled government have simply pushed many common citizens well past passivity.

It’s not about party. It’s about freedom and responsibility.

These Tea Parties won’t change anything, but they are an ominous sign for our political class and a heartening one for the future. Citizens are drawing strength and encouragement from the events that could translate into voting and political action that brings real change, not just a doubling-down on failed policy.

Hope springs eternal …