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Wichita’s tea party critics examined

On Wednesday, the Tea Party Express stopped in Wichita for a rally. Quite a few people attended — more on that in a moment — and the reaction to the event by Wichita’s Left perhaps says more about them than the protesters.

On several online discussion forums, including the Wichita Eagle editorial blog, there was a great deal of discussion concerning the number of people that attended the event. Several seemed particularly obsessed with discounting the attendance figure reported by the Wichita Eagle, which wrote “Organizers estimated the crowd at 1,500 to 1,700. Police at the scene estimated it at 2,000.” One Kansas blog wrote about this in a post, concluding “So, for the Eagle to pump the numbers seemed, well, like they were pandering.”

I don’t know how many people attended this event, but accusations that the Wichita Eagle caters to the interests of conservatives — either the newsroom or the editorial page — are laughable.

Another criticism leveled by the Left is that the tea party protesters weren’t protesting when President George Bush did A, B, C, D, or E. Memory may be selective here, as many, such as myself, were quite critical of many Bush policies, and many did not vote for him.

But there’s no doubt that many people have had their political awareness heightened by the excesses of the Obama administration. In any case, for critics to charge that someone can’t protest now because they didn’t protest then is not a valid complaint. When is someone allowed to start being involved?

Besides, there’s a measure of irony in the Left criticizing people for failing to protest something they support — increased government spending. As mentioned here and elsewhere, Bush was the champion of discretionary spending.

Another cause of the Left — regulation — exploded under the Bush administration. The aptly-subtitled article Obama’s assertions to the contrary, the 43rd president was the biggest regulator since Nixon explains.

The fact that some of these protesters may just now becoming politically active leads to a scurrilous charge the Left loves to make: that these protesters are criticizing President Obama only because he is not the same race as the largely white protesters. Comments left to the Wichita Eagle article included “It may be that some of these ‘tea party’ people don’t think that a black man has the mental capacity to be a President.” Another said “the only thing that missing from the video was a confederate flag flying with a picture of Obama sporting a Hitler mustache.”

Contrary to our idiot former president Jimmy Carter, it’s possible to be opposed to nearly all of Obama’s policies without being motivated by race. All that’s required is reason and a love for freedom and liberty.

Charges of racism are easy to make, and making them allows the accuser to sidestep meaningful discussion of Obama’s policies while appearing to take the moral high ground at the same time. (By the way, a common protest sign seen during the Bush presidency was Bush with a Hitler mustache.)

A similar content-free critique of the tea party protesters is their lack of diversity. Whether the lack of diversity among the tea party protesters means anything is doubtful, unless you support diversity for its own sake. That’s what some people call the “new racism” — the notion that one’s race determines one’s identity and political beliefs.

Tea Party Express Wichita 2009-11-04 074Wichita tea party protest sign

There is diversity of political thought among the tea party protesters. One of my favorite homemade protest signs quoted Lysander Spooner: “A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.”

Another young man carried a sign that read “minarchist.” I’ll let readers look up that term on their own, but it’s quite far removed from what most conservatives believe.

Some, maybe even most, of the comments left by tea party critics are hateful. One comment to the Eagle coverage read: “A lot of hate on this comment board. That it is coming from the ‘hope and change’ crowd tells you something.”

A sign carried by counter-protesters Wednesday read “Reagan, not dead enough.” Hateful, indeed.

Sometimes critics are misinformed. One exchange in the Eagle article comments went like this: “‘Get a job and go buy your own healthcare like the rest of us…’ Yea, and what about those of us who are self employed and are DENIED healthcare???”

This self employed person may not be aware of the Kansas Health Insurance Association, which states its purpose as this: “to provide access to health insurance coverage to all residents of the state who are unable to obtain individual health insurance.” Many states have such an organization.

There’s also the controversy surrounding sponsorship or support of the tea parties: the charge of “Astroturf” or fake grassroots political activity. The Left’s constant canard is that there are “shadowy” groups such as Americans For Prosperity and FreedomWorks that run the tea parties. Since these groups don’t have to disclose their donors, all sorts of speculation runs wild. In particular, the connection between Wichita’s own Koch Industries and AFP is mentioned. Often an incorrect connection between Koch Industries and FreedomWorks is included, too.

I inquired about these connections, and I received this reply a Koch Industries spokesperson: “Koch Industries, the Koch foundations, and Charles and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks.

Regarding AFP, the connection with Koch philanthropic interests is well-known. Specific details are laid out in a recent Newsmax.com article. It turns out that Koch support for AFP and the AFP Foundation is only a small proportion of these organizations’ total funding picture: “Less than 5 percent of the funding AFP or the AFP Foundation has received in 2009 has been contributed by David Koch, Koch Industries, or Koch foundations.”

Furthermore, the AFP organizations have over 50,000 donors and 700,000 members. That’s a broad base of both financial support and membership identification.

While the local Wichita AFP office has helped facilitate some of the Wichita tea party events, it was not involved in the promotion or production of this week’s event except to mention it in emails to its members. Derrick Sontag, the Kansas AFP state director also spoke, as did a number of local speakers. While AFP has members from across the nation, only 24 states have local chapters. The tea party movement, however, is nationwide.

There is, however, one criticism from the Left that has some validity: When seniors on Medicare protest government health care, don’t they realize who is paying their medical bills? More about this issue in a future post.

Related content: Tea Party Express in Wichita a success.

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21 Comments

  1. Lynda November 9, 2009

    Very Good article Bob. You bring up some great points. The counter protesters just wanted to yell and had little knowledge to back themselves up with. You may have pointed out that they were welcome to protest Bush at any time…some did.

  2. Paul Revere November 9, 2009

    I’ve often said that if this movement is an astroturf movement and being funded by large corporations, I’m still waiting for my check!

  3. Kevin Streeter November 9, 2009

    I see more diversity of thought within the conservative movement. War on drugs and foreign policy being two areas of disagreement. I, myself, see little change from Bush with Obama. On financial issues just goes further than Bush did.

    While there, I met up with others that I worked with on Ron Paul’s campaign. I pointed out to one how we have big disagreements with many here. This person told me that it does not matter. We will deal with those issues later. For now, our biggest threat to our freedom is our own government. We must unite and work with others we may not have been united with before.

  4. Alice F. November 9, 2009

    I never considered myself an “Activist,” at least not until this administration started stealing from my children’s future. Not only their money – but their HOPE. I’m a little embarrassed to say, I am very Grass-roots GREEN! I didn’t understand lobbyists, special interest groups, Party loyalty vs Constituents, and the percentage of people NOT registered to vote. But I’m learning. And the left can bet other “Grass-Root” Tea Party members are growing (knowledge) too!
    In case Pelosi and the left didn’t know… Astroturf doesn’t grow!
    * Thanks BOB for bringing to LIGHT the same thing I noticed… the liberal’s Mean-Spirited remarks. Where’s all that anger coming from?

  5. Carol November 9, 2009

    I was at the Tea Party, Itsn’t it a shame, that the Eagle didn’t tell the reader most of the speakers there was from the Black race. and It is to bad that more Blacks don’t come out for this, If they did, then what would the paper’s say. they couln’t go for the race thing, could they.
    Mrs. Carol Becker.

  6. James Gragg November 9, 2009

    Good article Bob.

    As far as the ignorant “lefts'” assertions that ANY decent of Obama is racelly motivated, then HOW do they explain Alan Keyes??? Put the two of them side by side, and anyone that is not clinically blind, can plainly see that Keyes is “blacker” than Obama. It patently is NOT a race issue. That is a cowardly emotional trick to avoid actually debating any issue in an honest fashion. When a couple of us (“bikers” LOL) confronted the counter-protesters with these FACTS, they soon left the area.

    What really gauls me no end, is that 8 (not 20 as was reported) got as much coverage from the local media as the 2000 TEA party attendies did. Some of the counter protesters’ conduct was out inflamitory lies, and a few of them were intentionally attempting to start a phyical confrontations.

  7. Anonymous November 9, 2009

    I once saw a sign that read “I hate his white half too.”

  8. Bettysue November 9, 2009

    Thanks,Bob,much-appreciated article;also the comments.Sure gives me hope for our nation when patriots attend tea parties,AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE,ON THEIR OWN TIME,God bless every one!
    I attended the tea party in April,and the Eagle belittled and undercounted as I expected;My subscription ran out about then ,and I will NOT renew (after being a subscriber for 8 years).

  9. sue November 9, 2009

    Very good article, Bob. I agree with all the other comments. It was a wonderful time. I worked the voter registration booth, and had republicans, democrats, and independents all sign up to vote. In equal number I might add. This is really not about a party, it is about an out of touch “elitist” government that is forcing us into debt that future generations will be burdened with. This healthcare non-reform bill is also about those same govt. officials burdening us with taxes and fees, and giving “We the people” very little back for all our “sacrifices.” (ie taxes!

  10. Ann H. November 9, 2009

    Great post, Bob. The left has very few weapons they employ, chiefly the logical fallacy of the ad hominem attack and its derivatives–that is, attacking a person instead of their argument. Once conservatives realize this, they can identify nearly all the left’s charges as being an attack on anything BUT the argument. Charges of racism, the “et tu” fallacy (“your guy did it too!”), charges of being funded by the wealthy (funny, the left never seems to mind so much money flowing to their side from the likes of Soros, celebrities, and other ultra-wealthy persons and organizations), charges that we don’t care about the poor, deriding us as “tea baggers”–ALL of these are attempts to deflect attention from the actual argument being made.

  11. Anonymous November 10, 2009

    Carol–

    What does race got to do with this? And you had two black speakers out of a dozen whites.

    I know this game…it’s called revisioning via propaganda. Welcome to Wichita “Liberty.” I’m so glad that, within that “liberty,” you include the privacy of the individual and, particularly, the woman.

  12. Anonymous November 10, 2009

    PS. I love watching all of you try to spell. It’s awesome!

    “racelly” = racially (I think)

    Bob, isn’t there WordPress widget you can throw into Thesis to spell check/check commas for these posters?

  13. Ann H. November 10, 2009

    Anonymous proves my point–attacking someone’s spelling is a classic ad hominem. (While at the same time, Anonymous omitted the word “a” before WordPress and used bad grammar in the sentence “What does race got to do with this?” Excuse me if I laugh.)

    I might point out, too, that there were more than two black speakers (four, in fact), but even using Anonymous’s figure of 1 in 7, that is approximately the same ratio of blacks to whites as in the American population at large anyway, so I’m not sure what Anonymous was trying to prove with that statement.

  14. Benjamin November 11, 2009

    I love how the left wants socialism/fascism, then thinks they will have free speech! It is classic and stil lmakes me laugh.

  15. Anonymous November 11, 2009

    Mandatory IRS payments to our government are required for both Social Security and Medicare, and are not programs that one can “opt out” of. Our government coercively collects the tax from people who work out of their earned income. There are no individually owned accounts earning interest for either program. Prudent people would be financially ahead if they could “opt out” of these programs, and simply invest the money collected for both programs in their own retirement and healthcare accounts earning compound interest. Mandatory government sponsored retirement and healthcare does not equal freedom. And then there is the problem of our government bureaucrats deciding to pay “benefits” via the Social Security and Medicare programs to people who made only minimal or no contribution to the programs.

  16. Benjamin November 12, 2009

    Social Secuirity was set up by none other than the private, “Federal” Reserve. It is collateral on the debt “owed” after America went bankrupt (and still is) after 20 years of Central Banking. The “Federal” Reserve was set up on Christmas Eve of 1913 . It passed with 4 voted because everyone else was with their families. 20 years later…. the stock market crash and depression. The IRS is nothing more than the “Federal” Reserve’s SWAT team.

    Wake up people! END THE FED! Sunday, November 22nd in KC MO. Will start at 11 am , right by the “Federal” Reserve building!

  17. Anonymous November 12, 2009

    FYI, socialism and fascism are not the same. I know you keep wanting to make this leap, but there’s a reason it hasn’t had much traction: even uneducated people know the two aren’t same.

  18. Benjamin November 12, 2009

    I never said it was. They both have the same outcome….. tyranny! Go troll under some other bridge!

  19. Kevin Streeter November 12, 2009

    Benjamin is right. Liberals, statists, socialists, fascists, and communists differ in the amount of freedom they want to take away and their means to do it. Opposed to them are the libertatians and conservatives.

  20. Mark Redeker November 16, 2009

    On your very last paragraph I would state they paid for their health care not the government. They paid into medicade or medicare all their working lives without any choice. Now when it comes time to collect what they have paid into, people want to state it is being given to them? Remember the government has no wealth without taking from the hard working people. Yes they have the means to print it, but it would not be worth the paper they used without a continuing source of true wealth to back there venture up, AMERICAN LABOR! I hope these are some of the facts you include when you write your article on the elderly using the system they paid for and the politicians robbed!

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