It may come as a shock to people around the country whose familiarity with the Tea Party movement is gleaned from national media reports, but yesterday’s rally at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia was well-organized, substantive, and well-behaved.
I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at this event, and I was impressed with the demeanor and attentiveness of the crowd — which included many young people in addition to adults from a very diverse background. The speakers reflected that diversity of backgrounds as well, and included many from Georgia (of course), but also from Washington, DC, other states and even other countries.
Common to those standing and listening to the speakers, and to the speakers themselves, was not so much the “anger” often portrayed by the national media as the hallmark of the Tea Party movement, but more of a deep and sincere concern for the current and future state of the nation. Government spending is today reaching historically — and dangerously — high levels of deficit; and the federal government’s role in the lives of the citizenry is expanding at an alarming rate. Focusing on these phenomena is vitally important, and the grassroots-based Tea Party movement is an entirely appropriate mechanism for doing so – not as the arm of any political party, but independent of those structures.
Whether the movement will sustain the energy and focus clearly evident at the Atlanta rally yesterday (and apparently also reflected in others around the country) over the long haul — so as to have any real hope of accomplishing its goal of actually reducing government power, spending and taxation — remains to be seen. But for the time being, the Tea Party movement is doing exactly what it should be doing — providing a forum for citizens sincerely concerned about the future of this great nation, in which they can share ideas and experiences in a civil and productive manner.