I am not a protester — at least I wasn’t. Many Americans equate protests with Vietnam anti-war protests and just kept their heads down and tried to work within the system. After Reagan and the Republican Revolution, we thought fiscal responsibility would reign, and, for a while, it looked like it would. Then came 9/11, and for a time, we took our eye off the ball. We gave President Bush all he wanted, even when it wasn’t fiscally responsible. We lost the House and the Senate, and the stage was set for a Democrat president.
The middle class was quiet until their fiscal security was compromised and TARP 1 and 2 passed, as well as a stimulus package and a budget carried over from last year with thousands of pork projects in it. To top it off, President Obama and the Democrats are trying to push through the biggest change in a health care delivery in history and telling us it will be deficit neutral.
Hundreds of thousands of people came to Washington to express their displeasure in the direction the government is going. The exits into D.C. from the expressways were shut down for a time, and we will never know how many more people tried to get to the Capitol to demonstrate. I arrived in D.C. with a busload of Fairtaxers (www.fairtax.org). We demonstrated at the IRS on Friday and then made visits to Blue Dog Democrats on the Hill to talk to them about the virtues of the Fairtax.
By Saturday, we were ready to go. Thousands gathered in Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue. It had a festival atmosphere. People carried clever and funny signs, and some serious signs, mostly hand made. There was very little bad behavior. The march stepped off at about 10 am and headed to the Capitol. For me, the most poignant moment on the march was passing the Newseum. On the front of the building is a six story engraved reading of the First Amendment. It was all there: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of the Press and Freedom to Assemble.
The crowd walked on, keeping Pennsylvania Avenue full for hours. The west lawn of the Capitol filled up quickly and the south and north lawns were filled up also. The only problem with the crowd was we couldn’t stretch out over the entire National Mall due to another event. A couple of announcements had to be made to make a lane for emergency vehicles and to match up lost children with their parents. The crowd kept coming down Pennsylvania Avenue. Then the speakers began.
I had the great honor of being one of those speakers. Standing up on that podium, looking out on the crowd, I could not have been more proud of the people standing there. They were regular people who took time off from work, from school and from retirement. Some of the speakers were names you know, like Dick Armey, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). But mostly, it was people like us. People who helped with events around the country from the first Tea Parties in February all the way through last Saturday, and it will be those people who stand up for the future of this movement.
On the bus with me was a 17 year old girl taking a day off from school with her mother. Her mother didn’t have full use of her legs, so she did what she could along the way, but she was involved. There was a woman and her mother navigating the crowds and warning her mom to watch her step. There was a man who had a heart attack in March and who was a retired handyman there with his wife. There were cancer survivors. There were retired businessmen and their wives, who could have been doing much more with their weekend. There was a single dad who at the last minute was asked to speak in front of one of the largest crowds in Washington, D.C. history. There were people who had never taken a subway train before who made it down there and back with signs in hand.
Of course, many in the MSM made fun of these people. Of course, a group of mostly middle aged people in sneakers walking down the most famous street in the world are a threat to people in power. They were marginalized and called names. They weren’t as smart or as smooth as, say, Van Jones or President Obama — but they are taxpaying, voting Americans and they pay for our government and their dissent deserves respect.
The March on Washington on September 12 was not the end. It is the beginning. There is already a movement called WeThePeople.com and Next Steps Training. There are already plans for a Tax Day Tea Party the size of September 12th. If this government continues going down the road of fiscal irresponsibility, they will continue to see the demonstrations and those who do not answer to their constituents will be voted out in 2010.
These crowds are serious. As serious as business owners and doctors taking time off the March on Washington, as serious as mothers and grandmothers, husbands and wives, parents and children taking time off from their lives to stimulate the economy of Washington the old fashioned way, with money they earned themselves from their own hard work.
I’m looking forward to getting on the bus again.