The “tea parties” held on April 15th around the country have captured a lot of attention among politicians and political pundits wondering if the event was a relatively insignificant, one-time event or reflects the beginning of a political event that will have an impact on the country in our immediate future.
The cultural and political rift between opposing views was reflected in the reporting of the event. Fox News had reporters at several major locations with large demonstrations and gave major coverage to the events. Other news organizations, such as CNN, largely ignored the tea parties.
The demonstrations captured the attention of the administration. David Axelrod, a White House strategist, referred to the tea parties as “unhealthy.” President Obama made an oblique reference to “disturbing disunity.”
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that the tea parties were a defense of “fairness and freedom” and commented that “subjects” of a government do not complain but that “citizens” demand the “right to pursue happiness” as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.
With a wide variety of opinions, and the potential for the tea parties to have an impact on American politics and government still an unknown factor, we asked readers for their opinion. Did they attend a tea party and do they think the events may have a potentially significant impact?
Here are the results:
|1. Did you attend a tea party protest on April 15th?
|2. Do the tea party protests represent a significant political event in America?
As you can see from the summary, most people did not attend (many readers commented they would have gone but were at work) and most (63%) think the impact is the events will be significant.
We also received about 400 comments (in addition to those posted with the original article on the survey). Most comments seemed supportive of the tea parties for a variety of reasons ranging from higher taxes, a government that is putting the nation in debt for generations, and increasing socialism in American society.
Those opposed to the tea parties referred to those attending the tea parties as right wing extremists, racists, whiners, and Republicans unhappy over losing the election.
Here are a few examples from the comments sent in by readers.
An electrician from DOD in California wrote: “The Politicians need to stop spending our grandchildrens money and balance the budget.”
A letter carrier from Texas had this comment: “If we do not get CAREER Politicians out of Washington. This Country is doomed. Politics was never designed to be a life long job. We have term limits for the President why not Congress?? If not then I think every person in America should think seriously about going on Welfare because that is where we are headed.”
A special agent with ICE in Houston was surprised at the size of the crowd: “Expected 400-700 people, over 5000 showed up at the Woodlands Tea party in North Houston area and signed in. There were actually many more that did not sign in due to the crowding. Peaceful with only 4 firemen and 5 constables for the crowd.”
A recreation planner with the Forest Service in California sees the tea parties as having a political impact: “These tea parties represent a lot of people – even if we didn’t “attend” a party. We do not like the way the President wants to take our country.”
A geologist with EPA in Dallas, TX thinks the tea parties helped the economy: “It is healthy for the citizens of this country to exercise their Constitutional right to peaceful protest. Besides, with all of the ‘Tea Shirts’, bumper stickers, and other paraphernalia bought and sold to support the parties – the economy is receiving a much needed boost.”
A compliance officer with the Dept. of Labor in Buffalo has a strong opinion: “This doesn’t have any thing to do with any political party, Democrat, Republican, Independent, or whatever, it has to do with an out of control government that no longer has the people’s or country’s best interest at heart. Politicians need to have term limits. There are some career deadwood politicians that are screwing up the best country in the world and its time to get rid of them. The government of which I am a part works for the people not the other way around. I hope this is the beginning of a new, peaceful, revolution that gets the United States of America back into the peoples hands.”
A scheduler with the FAA in Utah says: “I don’t know if the protest helps but in my option this country is in big trouble. I see a lot of change coming or has already started that is not good. This country is turning to socialism. If you fail you pick yourself up and try again. It does not matter if you are an individual or a business. The Government needs to keep their hands out and let life happen.”
An employee with the Corps of Engineers in New York says people are tired of irresponsible politicians: “I don’t think this a Republican vs Democrat battle. I think it is responsible individuals taking a stand against the ignorance in Washington DC. Those in governmnet now will do everything they can to discredit this movement but this movement is very significant in that it clearly shows that the people of the United States are getting tired of irresponsible politicians.”
A program analyst with the EPA in Research Triangle Park, NC wrote: “This is not about Republican or Democrats. This is about preserving a semblance of what out country should be. Your article was reasonably fair, but your skepticism was evident. Yes, the Federal Government may “continue on” but as Thomas Jefferson stated, “those who sacrifice freedom for the sake of security [in this case economic security] end up with neither.”
A retired Postal Service employee from Wisconsin thinks the administration was watching the events: “It was wonderful to see people out in the streets protesting the disastrous policies of the one term democratic president. It is time to correct a huge mistake. It got Obama’s attention since he dispatched Homeland Security to monitor the events.”
There were also comments from readers with a different perspective. Here is a sampling of these comments.
An EEO investigator with the Dept. of Transportation in Dallas says the tea parties are a racist event: “The event I believe was just a excuse for right winger to show their dislike for the President because of his race! Main-stream AMERICA is not stupid, they know what’s happening!”
A health insurance specialist from CMS in Baltimore says the tea parties show a lack of new ideas: “This is another indication that the Republican party is out of ideas.”
A retired federal employee from Denver thinks the tea parties were for rich people: “The tea party protests were simply the wealthy using the fools as shills to keep their income taxes low.”
An IT specialist with the Navy thinks it is a short-lived movement: “There are to many diverse issues brought forward by the different groups. They show a discontent with a lot that is happening but no cohesive “energy”, singleness of purpose and lack a leaders voice. This will pass.”
An engineer with the FCC in Washington commented: “It was a Republican photo-op.”
A judicial assistant from the US Courts in Little Rock, AR thinks the tea parties are “dangerous”: “We need to support our President who was inherited a bad situation and he is doing good to turn it around. Nothing is perfect, but even this morning, reports are that job losses seem to be lessening. My opinion – these extremist views and misreporting by talk/opinion/news show hosts are very dangerous and not good for our country.”
A budget officer from the Forest Service in Cody, Wyoming did not like President Bush: “It’s funny that there are protests now rather than when Bush ran the deficit up so high. I think these protesters are showing their short sightedness.”
An air traffic controller from Vineland, NJ thinks the term “tea party” is misplaced: “Boston Tea Party was because of Taxation without representation. All taxes now are implemented by our elected Representatives.”
Our thanks to everyone who participated in this survey and a special thanks to those who took the time to send in their written comments.