I went to one Tea Party/Tax Day Protest yesterday, a friend of mine went to another, and I haven’t spoken to anyone who went to the third one, which was not really a rally/protest because (a) it was held at a hotel, and (b) it was limited occupancy. You needed reservations.
The reviews are in: if we are going to have a vibrant, active Tea Party scene in this town, the various groups are going to have to get a little better at coordinating with each other and stirring up the “normal” folks to turn out. Both of the events at the Capitol were sparsely attended, and there was a disproportionately large presence of “Texas Independence” types and Libertarians. When normal, mainstream folks don’t show, the fringyer the scene. What was weird was the money that they seem to have laid their hands on since the last protest. Lotsa fliers, tee shirts, big expensive banners, and pre-printed stuff. It made me think that the rumored “crashing” that was to have taken place was of a more subtle nature: give money to the fringe whackos so that they look like they are organized and dominant.
A week before the rallies, I sent out an email to everyone I could think of asking when and where. I had received no word, despite belonging to several groups who had active Tea Partiers in them. I was gratified get many responses, but most were inaccurate in one way or another. Then, at the last minute, news about another gathering surfaced- this I heard about on the Greta van Susteren show. Newt Gingrich was to be in Austin on April 15. Then one of the known events changed times- something I heard through the grapevine, too (not complaining about grapevines, but why does my friend get the robocalls and I don’t?). Mind you, we had all googled “Tax day protest Austin” and “Tea Party Austin” and other permutations of relevant searches and NONE OF THESE events showed up on the searches. None, zero, zip, nada.
So, to recap: poor publicity and poor, self-defeating lack of coordination, and last minute changes leading to poor attendance and dominance of astro-turf fringe groups. I’d like to hear from people who went to the Gingrich event, which I believe was sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots. Way to go, guys: suck the oxygen out of the other rallies for an indoor, limited access event. Nice!