Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4-22 Republicans Have Fun Too

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Our capital city lived up to its reputation at the April 15, Tea Party by turning out a very large and eclectic crowd for the event.
Santa Fe is accustomed to rallies and demonstrations. But most of them are of the liberal variety. Could conservatives successfully pull one off in this land often called the People's Republic of Santa Fe?
Yes, they could. They did a good job. The Santa Fe New Mexican estimated the crowd at 500. Organizers claimed 700 and said they collected 540 petition signatures to send to elected officials.
Various sources estimated the crowd in Boston at "a few hundred." Many New Mexico communities beat that.
Certainly it isn't difficult to get people riled up on the day we must pay our federal and state income taxes. April 15 always produces political theater from all stripes of people opposed to paying taxes to support government programs with which they disagree.
But the folks who organized tea parties in hundreds of cities and towns across the United States did a good job of putting them together. No one wants to take credit for the accomplishment, preferring to call it a grassroots movement.
The GOP was in evidence at many of the rallies, but officially the organizers in each community were concerned individuals. Fox News claims it was just reporting, not organizing the events. But I did see hours of promotion for the parties on the channel, with maps showing where events would be.
Former U.S. Rep Dick Armey and other lobbyists for companies receiving bailout money have been fingered as the real organizers. Having been an organizer myself at one time, I know such things don't just happen, especially on a national scale.
The only reason it matters is the claims that this was the beginning of a continuing movement. The next rallies will be on July 4. That should get the blood boiling in the folks who complained that the April 15 events misinterpreted the true meaning of the 1773 Boston Tea Party.
Back to the fun in Santa Fe. The event was advertised as non-partisan, family friendly and peaceful. And that it was. There was music, many costumes, children's activities and smiles on faces everywhere.
Invited speakers included former Democratic state Sen. John Grubesic, a former libertarian-leaning Gov. Gary Johnson and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Greg Zanetti.
The only unpleasantness of the evening came when Grubesic announced he doesn't like taxes either but they are necessary to operate a civilized society. That and a few other comments brought some heated retorts from the audience.
Gov. Johnson and organizers apologized for Grubesic's treatment but that's what sometimes happens at large gatherings. Grubesic took it in stride, saying he has been treated worse by Democrats at times.
Johnson showed up wearing a shirt with a large peace symbol on it and told the crowd he was disappointed with both Republicans and Democrats for wrecking our economy.
Signs and posters tended more toward humor than the hateful ones we saw on TV at rallies elsewhere in the nation. One sign said "John Galt Lives."
It's likely many in the crowd didn't have to ask the central question from "Atlas Shrugged." Reportedly those who did ask "Who is John Galt" learned more than they might have wanted about Ayn Rand's philosophy of ethical egoism and how well it fit into the rally's theme.
Some 16 tea parties were held throughout the state in Hobbs, Roswell, Carlsbad, Alamogordo, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Silver City, Clovis, Farmington, Taos, Raton, Aztec, Albuquerque and even Mayhill.
Attendance was good at all I have heard from. Roswell may top them all at a reported 1,000.
That's encouraging. The two most overlooked, and often least popular, of our five 1st Amendment rights are the rights to assemble and to petition our government.
WED, 4-22-09

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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