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One protester's handwritten notes from behind the tea party lines

April 19, 2009 | 12:24 am

Tea party protesters gather in Santa Ana, California 4-15-09

If there's one thing that the folks who work and spend so hard to get to Washington don't like, regardless of their profession or political persuasion, it's thinking that they don't run or know all things in this country from their perch down in that ex-swamp that Maryland gave away as useless.

So, much of the commentary emanating from Washington and its self-important sister city of New York on last week's several hundred tea parties was how they were so well-organized by unorganized, leaderless Republicans desperate for anything to oppose the awesomely popular President Obama.

From working our local sources, reading comments and blogs and exchanging Tweets with many Ticket followers, the tea parties struck us much the same as the Ron Paul movement of 2007-08, a semi-spontaneous grass-roots eruption of emotion, unease, anger, inchoate thoughts, coherent arguments, cultural variations and anti-big-government sentiments with the main targets of spending and taxes by big government, in that order.

To the extent that elected Republican politicians were involved, they seemed to be kinda out of shape trying to catch up and join in. And thaTea party protesters against big government in Anchorage, Alaskat noted GOP member George W. Bush wasn't coming off too well in the criticisms either, primarily for his immense late-term spending. Later, expanded greatly by No. 44.

One of the more interesting things to watch in coming months is what the staying power of these protests is; many messages are already flying around about organizing similar parties on July 4. We'll see.

If the protests do last, they could well become factors for politicians on all sides to work into their electoral equations for the 2010 campaigns right around this time next year.

So, as an experiment we asked one of our loyal Ticket readers and Twitter followers, Dann Selle up in Spokane, Wash., to keep some notes for us to share with Ticket readers around the world.

His full report is below. And he sent us a video clip below too. Let us know what you think.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of Twitter, click here to register for automatic alerts on all new Ticket items at @latimestot

Compiled by Dann Selle from his notes: 

Spokane Tea Party is a non-profit, non-political grassroots effort with a mission to create public awareness of the practices of past and current career politicians in Washington D.C. 

Our volunteers are just ordinary small business owners, deeply concerned citizens, mothers and fathers and, grandparents expressing anger at the government for taking hard-earned dollars out of their pockets and giving it to failed mortgages of others and to major corporations. They do not believe this is the role of our government and flies in the face of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. 

Spokane Tea Party was founded by Gary Edgington and partner Kirk Smith approximately 5 weeks ago. A Spokane Tea Party web page was started at www.spokaneteaparty.org.  A massive media blitz was started about two weeks prior to the scheduled event  News Releases were sent out to all newspapers, TVs, and Radio stations within a 100 mile area. 

Tea party signs

Local talk show hosts Mike Fitzsimmons on KXLY radio, Spokane, WA. in addition, Dr. Laurie Roth, a nationally syndicated host on KSBN radio, Spokane, hosted Gary Edgington two times each respectively.  

Dann Selle dug into his own pocket and cut a  public service announcement airing on KQNT news radio in Spokane that aired 15 times in a three-day period around the Dean and Angela news program and Rush Limbaugh. KHQ television interviewed Media rep., Dann Selle on the eve of the event, near the chosen location. Selle stated the organization expected at least 1,000 to 1,500 people to show up. 

At 3pm on April 15, people began filing in, near the Convention Center and Opera House. By 4:15pm, approximately 2,500 to 3,000 had arrived standing shoulder to shoulder. 

By 4:45p.m. over 5,000 were officially estimated present. Thousands were carrying signs, banners and flags expressing there grievances to both Republican and Democrat national representation in Congress.

Edgington worked the crowd and directed them to come closer to the stage to make more room while, Kirk Smithcontinued signing up people for event news, and he underestimated the crowd and was concerned he might run out of sign up sheets. Later, Edgington spoke giving thanks to all who made the event possible. *bright sunny day etc…… 

Cathy McMorris Rogers, Washington’s 5th district  U.S. representative spoke very briefly before the 5,000 plus attendees.  She simply said she was not there for speeches and this was not about her. She was there as a citizen like everyone else. She was there to say thank you to Spokane for the turn-out and would continue the fight against government spending in D.C.  She left the stage after about 1½ minutes and joined the crowd.  *She was a class act .

*Other speakers where lay people with no reference to party affiliation expressing their heartfelt concerns over the massive U. S. debt…. “We the People will pay for it with higher and higher taxation.”  “It will not stop there; our children and grandchildren will pay for the next 40 years for what congress has done in less than 40 days.”  

People further expressed anger that “taxation would rival the amount they have lost in their 401k's over a ten-year period doubling losses.” People milled around for an hour after the party closed at 6:00pm  sharing and discussing other concerns about US Gov.

*Many car companies have folded over the years and we still have plenty to choose from."   ###

A Los Angeles protestor's Tea Party anti-Bailout sign

Photo credits: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times (Anti-spending protesters assemble in Santa Ana, Calif.); Al Grillo / Associated Press (Alaskans protest big government on Anchorage street); Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times; Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times (A Los Angeles protester). .

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