Above left: A tee shirt expresses the emotions of many people who participate in the Tea Party movement.
Right: The Washington, D.C. event the late afternoon and early evening of April 15, 2010, brought well-known entertainers (as well as political and news-reporting figures) to entertain. Here, Grammy Award winner Ray Stevens performs one of five songs he did in his first set. Those not near enought the stage to see or hear him could view on giant screens and and listen on loudspeakers.
Above: The crowd spread wide, even here early in the event.
|Former Congressman and House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, now of Tea Party coordinator FreedomWorks, is interviewed by John King of CNN at the site of the Tax Day Tea Party.|
|Among the most-stated instructions for Tea Party participants at this year’s Tax Day event was that offensive comments (e.g, racial slurs, anti-homosexual rhetoric, cruel comments about specific Democrats) should not be tolerated, and that those hearing such remarks should report those making them to event leaders. Efforts to banish such people from involvement with the group’s events have proliferated since reports of crude remarks by unruly protesters on the grounds of the United States Capitol shortly before voting on manditory health insurance bill the previous month. Proponents of the Democrat’s bills have used this allegation to tarnish the Tea Party movement, disregarding counter-claims that the persons making the remarks may have been counter-demonstrators deliberately intent on disgracing the group they infiltrated. Although Andrew Breitbart is offering $100,000 for recordings which link any such remarks to the individuals who made them, he has yet to have to part with his money. (Breithbart spoke at this Tax Day event; he is not represented among the photographs on this page.)|
In this photo, the sign-maker reminds people that offensive remarks are not welcome—but also has fun with the idea, by including pictures that suggest to people that among the most offensive of well-known persons are Nancy Pelosi, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Harry Reid, Joe Biden and Eric Massa.
Left: The sign addresses President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid on their absence of respect for the United States Constitution.
Center: This sign expresses the complaint that too many pieces of recent prominent legislature have been monstrous compromises shaped by members who withhold their votes until their constituencies receive expensive exceptions; those following the news had heard often of “the Cornhusker Kickback,” “ the Louisiana Purchase” and malodorous equivalents.
Right: A suggestion that a new Amendment to the Constitution make impossible Congress exempting itself from the laws the rest of the nation must follow. Recent news indicated that the recent health care legislation had (in a rare turnaround) backfired on Congress and its staff by putting in question whether new members and employees could obtain insurance as a benefit prior full implementation of the law in 2014.
|Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush famously told crowds at his presidential campaign rallies, “Read My Lips: No New Taxes,” then as President (1989-1993) so angered much of the public with increased taxation that this betrayal was a key cause of his failure to secure re-election. This woman indicates that a woman can be just as upset as anyone at such a betrayal. (The change in noun may also evoke a reminder of Sarah Palin’s quip about “the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick!”)|
Right: Vice Presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen (running on the Democratic ticket in 1988) originated an oft-parodied comment in a debate with his Republican opponent when he said to Dan Quayle, “I knew Jack Kennedy. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Here, a protester takes exception with President Obama’s occasional efforts to follow the political precedents of Abraham Lincoln to make the unwary think of Obama as the political heir to Lincoln.
A tee shirt and a sign each quote from Thomas Jefferson.
|A third quotation from Jefferson:|
“Were we directed from Washington
When to sow and when to reap,
We should soon want bread.”
A quote from James Madison (often called “The Father of the Constitution”) and one by Thomas Paine (whose pamplet Common Sense roused American Colonists to break from England). The man with the Madison sign is wearing a tee shirt that modifies the familiar Obama-style “Hope” design to read “Nope.”
The man in the “Don’t Tread on Me” cap wears a tee shirt with a likeness of Benjamin Franklin and a quotation by him: “When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of our republic.”
Center: Frederick Douglass was a contemporary of Abraham Lincoln, and thus like the 16th President not a Founding Father. Nonetheless, in this quotation, former-slave Douglass recognized the tremendous effort that must often be expended where one’s opponents are abusers of power.
Right: This tee shirt quotes from the United States Constitution to remind the public that people need to look out for (and thus provide for) themselves.
Ayn Rand’s now-53-year-old novel Atlas Shrugged inspired many protesters to object to massive growth of government, having seen in the novel’s story that huge corrupt governments usurp their citizens’ rights and attempt to shift blame to the victims. The tee shirts worn by the couple in the left photo are wearing shirts inspired by the novel: “A is A” is the title of the last of the novel’s three sections, inspired by a formulation of Aristotle, and “Who is John Galt?” is the first line of the novel, one repeated at intervals, as an expression of resignation and muted frustration by characters who have mostly given up on the prospect of any honorable, intelligent person becoming prominent in government (such people are rare even in business in the novel’s time setting). The photo at right shows a protest sign resembling the cover of some editions of the novel, wherein the mythical figure of Atlas loses strength, burdened and weighed down by the dictates of out-of-control government.
|This protester invites the Atlases of the world to “shrug,” which in the parlance of the novel means to reduce their workloads and even to go “on strike,” depriving the looters of the world of their valuable services. In the novel, the citizens of a future United States who are most vital to its continuation as a civilized, advanced society—the best inventors, industrialists, managers, executives, professors, intellectuals—leave their jobs, so that the combined effect of these people’s withdrawal is the same as Atlas having shrugged. By advocating “Shrug, Atlas, Shrug,” this woman seems to implore the real-life American equivalents of the 2010s to do the same. The consequence would make modern government and American society crumble for lack of vital resources and services.|
The sign reading “Where’s John Galt” suggests that the events of the novel are occurring today, with the specific question on the sign asking whether the main agent of America’s dissolution will make his presence known to the country as a whole soon. The woman on the photo at right advocates that a hero of the novel run for President of the United States in the next national election. (Does anyone really want conventional candidates who have risen through today’s political swamp when we can elect a rights-respecting thinker depicted in the novel?)
|This woman’s sign conveys that Tea Party-goers—and anyone with initiative to get things done—should think of himself as a John Galt. This is in keeping with a message which reappears in Ayn Rand’s writings: people of all abilities can develop and rebuild themselves to become the kind of person who recognizes his own highest abilities and who gets done the most worthwhile of the tasks he assigns for himself.|
The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights (conveniently located just a few blocks from the Tea Party site) had staff and supporters onsite at the Tea Party handing out two flyers: What the Tea Party Movement Must Stand For and The Significance of Atlas Shrugged. (These flyers can be read online by clicking on the links within the previous sentence.)
|Left: A message addressing the public’s wrong perception after big government attempts to shift the blame for bad results to the businesses who were victimized by the same governmental destructive actions for which they are wrongly blamed.|
|Right: If it had been I who made the sign, it would read “equal freedom” rather than “equal opportunity.” Still, the sign advocates against collectivist schemes to equalize wealth by confiscating and redistributing it; instead, each citizen if possessing equal freedom can achieve whatever level of material attainment his abilities and willingness can bring into being. Some critics might find fault with her delivering this message while wearing a “Jesus Saves” tee shirt. At the protests against Government takeover of medicine which took place at the Capitol Building the prior month, some counter-protest placards claimed Jesus would be a socialist. Such challenges (dare some say contradictions?) tend not to be considered or addressed by many Tea Party participants.|
Whether participants understand the foundations of the values of freedom and liberty or not, a key feature of the Tea Party movement is that it does not mandate any particular root belief and embraces all who wish to promote (and achieve) liberty.
Right: A rallying cry during the late colonial period was “taxation without representation,” a recognition of the outrage of Britain denying America’s residents from sending one of their own to Parliment to advocate for the colonialists’ interests, even as Americans paid into the government coffers. The phrase is blared often today in Washington D.C.’s local government inasmuch as the District of Columbia has neither a voting Representative nor Senator in the United States Capitol. (This is owing to the U.S. Constitution being worded so that representatives and senators serve the various states, with no provision granting representatives or senators to such non-state territories of the U.S. as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.)
The woman’s sign indicates that “taxation with representation” can entail abusive government as well.
|The tremendous increase in spending that the Federal Government has taken on since late 2008—the $1.4 trillion debt for fiscal 2010 is over triple the record-breaking $450 billion of the prior year—worries many that the United States has been put on a collision course of dependence upon foreign debt, which if cut off will plunge the U.S. into a spiral of hyperinflation such as that which plagued Germany following World War I. The mock Federal Reserve Note on the sign has Obama’s image on it, suggesting that he will “own” the crisis when it comes, owing to Obama’s authorizing deficits equal to 80% above what the government collects as income. (Nothing in the preceding is meant to excuse George W. Bush from spending 33% more than government income during many years of his Administration. That was outrageous as well.)|
The House of Representatives passed the Senate health care bill on March 21, and the President signed it two days later. Some might have said that this would finish opposition to the bill, but it hasn’t.
The protest sign on the left expresses the oft-recognized concern that persons who might have obtained medical services through insurance or by paying cash will be denied those same services under a government system. President Obama even (implicitly) acknowledged such consequences when on his ABC television special he told the audience, “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.” (Date: June 24, 2009. Video: YouTube and RealClearPolitics Video)
The photo on the right shows a model of a corpse who (according to the sign) will receive medical services after it is too late. The note on the hat indicates that the corpse had been a Chicago resident, died 1992. Those who know of Chicago politics know that Chicago’s dead have remained on voter rolls and that their names are among those recorded as showing up to vote, so why shouldn’t they also be among those for whom medical services are billed to the government long after the body has been put in the ground?
Here are two samples from among the many instances of participants asking that “God Bless Our Nation” (or words to that effect; non-believers in God were also participants in this Tea Party, although had any carried signs saying so, these were not seen by my camera) or who indicated the far-away state from which they came. (Tennessee is actually quite near D.C. in comparison to several other states from which there were participants at the Tax Day Tea Party in D.C. for 2010. Tennessee’s neighboring state of North Carolina held a tax day tea party of its own in Charlotte that drew thousands people, according to news reports.)
|Several counter-protesters attempted to subvert the message of the Tea Party by trying to blend in, despite incongruous messages and some snarling attitudes. Perhaps the unwary were taken by their messages of 95% of Americans having already received a tax cut from Obama. (Who would those be?)|
However, this couple had a pointed message against both recent presidents. Both Presidents Bush (43) and Obama are depicted as the Joker from Batman, each with a rebuking description: Bush is called “fascist,” Obama is matched to “socialism.” The sign indicates that there’s hypocrisy when some Americans favor one man over the other in matters where the two having matching policies.
The reckless behavior of counter-protesters have unfairly blemished the Tea Party movement. When protests against the then-imminent health care bill took place on Capitol Hill on November 10, 2009, an estimated 7,000 people against such legislation behaved peacefully, whereas thirty people seeking a government takeover were so out-of-control at the entrance to a Senate office building (after being told that Senator Lieberman would not see them—Lieberman was withholding his vote from the Democrat’s bill at the time) that four were arrested. News reports stated that protests against the legislation took place and that there were arrests, but sometimes didn’t indicate that it was only the counter-protesters who had gone violent.
I also host a page of 120 pictures of mine from the September 12, 2009, Tea Party in Washington, D.C.
All photographs on this page shot by me, David P. Hayes.
This web page describing and illustrating the Tax Day Tea Party of 2010 in Washington, D.C.
© 2010 David P. Hayes