Tea Parties: This Is Still Going On

Mountain Home Tea Party, July 4, 2009 (Photo: Baxter Bulletin)
Mountain Home Tea Party, July 4, 2009 (Photo: Baxter Bulletin)

That image there is from the July 4 Arkansas Tea Party in Mountain Home (photo courtesy of Baxter Bulletin), where hundreds showed up to spend their holiday expressing their discontent with out-of-control government spending and taxes. An extensive story on the event in the Baxter Bulletin doesn’t venture an estimated count, but reports this event was larger than the April 15 Tea Party in Mountain Home, which pulled in more than 1,000 people.

Meanwhile, in Fayetteville, another Tea Party demonstration on July 4 brought in perhaps 1,000 people, as chronicled here by the Val’s Bien blog and here by the Northwest Arkansas Times’ Kate Ward. I got a text message from a friend on Saturday who’d just left a Tea Party event in Heber Springs, where he estimated about 300 people on hand.

These numbers continue to surprise me, and the question, as before, is whether the energy and momentum of the Tea Party movement can be harnessed into something constructive and effectual.

It’s a question I examined at length in a recent guest article on the Tea Party phenomenon for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. (Here’s a piece from the Christian Science Monitor that covers similar ground. Instapundit has a good round-up of events around the nation with photos.)

And if it seems like I’m hawking this stuff incessantly, it’s because I’m convinced that whatever dynamic is on display here—a movement that can turn out more than 1,000 people in Mountain Home, Ark., on the Fourth of July—is far more consequential than the antics of the governors of Alaska or South Carolina, or irrelevant speculation about the 2012 presidential race.

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