Philadelphia – More than 150 marked Tax Day here with a "Tea Party" invoking the principles of the American Revolution to express dismay at the growth of government in Washington.
The lunchtime rally had a strong focus on transferring the Tea Party rally energy into electoral activism.
Waving yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags and carrying signs that said "Taxed Enough Already," "Keep American Exceptional Not European" and "Socialism: Your Tax Dollars at Work for Those Who Don't," demonstrators gathered at Love Park and heard speakers urge them to get more involved in politics.
"Things will not get better unless you get involved," the Pennsylvania state coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, Diana Reimer, told the crowd. "Join a group. If you're not registered to vote, register."
After the pledge of allegiance and the singing of the national anthem led by Ms. Reimer's son Nathanael, the group heard from a series of speakers who clashed with the press's portrayal of the Tea Party movement as a group of old white men. ("So many of the Tea Partyists appear to be in late middle age. I think they just want to go back to the country that existed when they were 28 and looked really good in tight-fitting jeans. Which is no longer the case," sneered Gail Collins, who is 64, in her New York Times column.)
First off was Jesse Civello, 17, in a bow tie, suspenders, and striped pants, looking like the George Will of a future generation. "Socialistic policies have infiltrated our republic," declared Mr. Civello. "It's time for change."
He said that anger over intrusive government is not Republican or Democratic but American, and complained about his generation being saddled with federal debt. He urged the crowd to "volunteer on a campaign" and to talk to friends, neighbors, and co-workers. "This movement is about more than angry people, it's about large, irresponsible government," he said.
The next speaker was a little older – 26, and black. Jamal Green explained "why I am a conservative," giving reasons that included his belief that "free market capitalism," not "wealth redistribution," is the "engine of economic growth."
Next came a medical resident, Andrew Foy, who said that the federal departments of housing, energy, education, and health and human services all had no basis in the Constitution. He called on the crowd to support candidates in 2010 who would repeal the health care law, and said the Tea Party audience should continue "peaceful demonstrations" and "making our voices heard at the voting booths this November."
Beth Powers, who bought a bus, had it shrink-wrapped, and is riding it across America on a tour to promote liberty, cautioned against attempts to "divide, conquer, and demonize" by pitting Democrats against Republicans, or union workers versus non-union ones. "It is about the culture of our country going forward," she said. "We will soon be known as the land of dependency if we go down this path."
A contributing writer to Human Events, Katie O'Malley, told the group, "As many hours as you put into rallies, you put those back into races." She urged them to "make phone calls" and "go door to door" as campaign volunteers for political candidates.
Another speaker, Bob Porto, a Tea Party activist from Arkansas, recalled asking the chief of staff to a U.S. senator from Arkansas, "Are we going to stay capitalism or are we going to go socialism?"
"How about somewhere in the middle?" he said the government official replied.
Said Mr. Porto: "There is no in-between."
"We have a two-headed monster, the Democrats and the Republicans," Mr. Porto said. "Have the Republicans gone astray also? Yes."
He also urged audience members to volunteer to work on political campaigns. "You're going to have to put your trust in somebody," he said.
A student at the University of Pennsylvania, Dan Chinburg, 23, also spoke of the burden of the federal debt on young Americans, and he said the educational system teaches children to associate capitalism with child labor and racism.
The final speaker, John Lemon, whose US Sound Technologies provided the sound system for the event, compared the current Tea Party activists to the revolutionary patriots. "Just as King George underestimated the first Tea Party, they are underestimating us," he said.
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Those interested in tea parties may also want to read my biography of Samuel Adams, who gave the order to start the original Boston Tea Party.