The Denver Tax Day Tea Party was a limited success. People flowed over the capitol steps down to the street below. The Denver Post estimates a crowd of “more than 5,000.” Sounds like a fair guess to me. I’ll post my initial thoughts for now (at about 2:40); later I’ll add extensive photographs and audio interviews of the event. (I’ll create a second post.)
I got there about 10:15. I would have arrived earlier had I realized my good friend Michael Huttner was putting on a 10:00 news conference in praise of President Obama’s policies.
The audio system was inadequate for the crowd. I heard perhaps a minute of the speeches. Those on the upper steps and away from the loudspeakers could hear practically nothing of the official program. I figured others were capturing the audio of the speakers, so I could work the periphery. I conducted numerous short interviews with ralliers and took even more photos. My goal was to see what the typical person who showed up thought about things.
The basic message of most of the ralliers that I talked with is that they’re tired of out-of-control federal spending and disgusted with the debt passed on to their children and grandchildren. A few people had more to say about state policy as well.
I had a very nice conversation with a Democratic couple that came to see what the conservatives were up to. Though we disagree about economic policy and the proper role of government, we also found some common ground and had a nice chat (that will go online).
At one point I saw some young kids wearing masks and carrying “end the Fed” signs. I got the photo, as I wanted to show the goofiness as well as the typical rallier. (I disfavor the Federal Reserve, but I don’t think wearing silly masks to a rally will help the cause.) I saw a well-dressed young guy approach the kids with another fellow operating a high-end video camera. It was pretty obvious where that was headed. Indeed, soon the guy conducting the interviews started the chant, “end the Fed,” which the kids were happy to take up enthusiastically. Clearly this was not a real news crew. Nevertheless, the fellow conducting video interviews and I had a fairly interesting conversation, which we both recorded.
As I mentioned to a friend, my two biggest concerns with the rally were that it was fairly partisan (even though two Republicans I talked with actually presented the strongest criticisms of W. Bush), and it contained some mixed messages. While anti-immigration and anti-abortion messages constituted a small part of what I saw, clearly there remain some serious rifts within the conservative or broadly “right” movement. (I think it’s a mistake to call my beliefs either conservative or right-wing, but I do have many conservative friends — as I have leftist friends — and others tend to lump me in with the right because I advocate free markets.)
I took off around 1:15, though the speakers were still at it. Note to rally organizers: don’t plan a rally that includes more that 45 minutes of speaking, especially on a hot day. A lot of people were leaving with me. I was getting a little dehydrated, too, and I had water in my car.
It’s going to take me awhile to process my digital files, so check back later…