First of all, who needs speakers? It's a protest, not a rally. I heard Rush Limbaugh say last week that he was too famous to go to a Tea Party protest, and he was right. Once famous people get involved, they inevitably become the focus of the event. Sadly, in the absence of real famous people, the organizers of the Tea Party protest decided to go with people who could be described as "famous to conservatives." That leads me to the second reason I will not be attending: Alan Keyes is speaking, and Alan Keyes doesn't speak for me.
I shouldn't single Keyes out, even though he's not who I want representing me in the eyes of the media. The truth of the matter is, I don't want Laura Ingraham representing me either, or Grover Norquist, no matter how much I may have in common with their political views. I thought the Tea Party was supposed be about us, which is what made it different. Rush Limbaugh understands this, which is why he wisely stayed away. It's an amazingly selfless act, and one that hasn't been much repeated by others in the conservative community. Why do we need anybody representing us? Isn't the point of all of this for the government to hear from We the People? If anybody is representing us on stage, it should be the local business owner who's going to have to cut jobs because of tax increases, or the police officer who sees good colleagues leaving because of budget shortfalls, shortfalls that aren't relieved by stimulus money. For God's sakes, if people have to speak, let them be people, not pundits.
The Tea Party movement didn't need this, the sad parade of B-list conservative celebrities all too eager to attach their name to the cause. The movement did start organically, even if it was soon co-opted by a political machine that politicizes and makes partisan even the most important of issues. Once that issue becomes just another "conservative" thing, all hope of real victory is lost. It is just something else that conservatives will be mocked for, because that is what we do to our political opponents these days. I imagine there'll be a lot of mocking of our opponents at the Washington Tea Party today, because both sides are equally guilty of the practice.
And yet, the organizers of the D.C. Tea Party invited these pundits to assume leadership, or at least prominence, in the movement. By doing so, I can't help but feel like they've killed something very important. I don't know why they felt it was so important to have partisans play such a large role in today's events. Maybe they simply thought it was a good idea. If so, they were wrong.
If this were a liberal rally, it wouldn't be Alan Keyes speaking, it would be Dennis Kucinich. It wouldn't be Laura Ingraham, it would be Rachel Maddow. And conservatives would mock the bejeezus out of it for being a political Woodstock for the lunatic fringe.
I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I am, because I wanted for this to work so badly. The post that started this blog was probably a little too rah-rah in retrospect. Perhaps I'm guilty of idealistically thinking that something "of the people" could remain "of the people" in this day and age. Perhaps I'm incurable, because I'm still looking for ways to turn this around.
There is one thing I've come up with. The organizers of the Tea Party have scheduled the next event for July 4th. Let all Americans, of every political stripe, feel welcome with others who share their concern and disgust over the prospect of continued government bailouts. Leave the polarizing figures behind. You don't need them for this. There's a lot at stake here, and we can't afford to screw it up.
At the end of my first post, I quoted from Joseph Warren's speech commemorating the Boston Massacre in 1775, just a few weeks before the first shots were fired on Lexington Green. I'll repeat them here, because now more than ever, he speaks to us.
On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.