I stopped briefly by the Columbus Tea Party, which began on the State House lawn at 6:00. I’d estimate the crowd at about 1500 to 2000 and still growing, albeit slowly, at 6:45. It was pretty easy to calculate that there were 400 to 500 on the State House steps, and from there estimate the numbers on the ground. That struck me as a pretty good crowd for a weekday evening, with thoroughly rotten weather. The temperature was in the low 40s, the sky completely overcast with a very light rain that kept a sort of steady mist in the air. It was the kind of cold that chills you to the bone. Has been like that all day in Columbus.
A couple other observations that stood out for me:
1) Lots of signs, and almost all of them obviously home made. Even the few that were more professionally done were individualized and not the result of any monied effort anyone could see – there were not dozens of neatly printed signs, like you’d see at a union march, a pro-abortion rally, or something organized by the Chamber of Commerce. These folks made up their signs and lugged them downtown for the tea party.
2) These were not Chamber of Commerce types, bankers, lobbyists, or stereotyped Young Republicans. I saw my friend Joe Hallett in the crowd, a thoughtful, center-left columnist for the Columbus Dispatch (there to observe, not to participate) and I joked to him that he was the only guy there in a suit – which was pretty close to literally true.
3) People were polite, well behaved, sincere. Contrary to what the left likes to think, the crowd wasn’t i some type of frenzy, faces contorted in rage, shouting anti-Obama slogans or anything like that. My observation from a few conversations, watching the audience, and seeing how they reacted to speakers, was that what they had was less a white hot anger than a deep concern for their country – a feeling that the country was being rapidly changed in fundamental ways (with which they disagreed) on the basis of a phony mandate, a bait and switch, if you will.
4) Mostly white, good mix of age and gender.
5) Limited government, not so-called “social issues,” is the order of the day.
Is this low key gathering of people willing to give up their evening to stand in the cold, rain, and fading daylight, along with hundreds of others around the country, the rear-guard of the Reagan Revolution, or the smoldering start of something new?