"You are scaring people all over the country," Lou Dobbs, the former CNN anchor, declared to a crowd of thousands stretching down 8th Avenue from 33rd to 28th streets beside the James A. Farley Post Office in Manhattan at a quarter to nine o'clock.
He's right. They are. But not for the correct reasons. David Webb, the master of ceremonies and host of the conservative talk show The Grinder, nearly two hours earlier told the crowd, "America is looking at these signs and wondering what we think." The signs ran from the humorous, jabbing at the President's euphemistically girlish toss on Opening Day with "Obama: You suck at baseball and your socialist policies are destroying our country" to the crude, as displayed on a t-shirt, "Spay and Neuter Liberals." What the t-shirts, signs and speakers who ranged from doctors and talk-show hosts to national security commentators like Kathleen Troia McFarland, didn't offer were concrete solutions to the problems they saw.
The Tea Party members were a little older and less racially mixed but by and large were just like any other Americans. They share the same problems, too. Mike, a white-bearded volunteer for the aptly named "Tea Party 365," said he joined because, "All over my neighborhood I see businesses going out of business." Similarly, Anna, a Polish immigrant working at an eatery nearby, was drawn to the crowd because, as she said, "Americans pay too many taxes for nothing," and added despairingly, "America's supposed to be for small business."
These are normal people who want answers that fit their lifestyle. The people in the crowd weren't heretics, racists or homophobes. Although it took nearly two hours, David Webb finally said, "This is not a Republican movement. This is an American movement," which they see as bi-partisan. The crowd was controlled and only a few times did the police step in and almost never in response to a Tea Party member outburst. America shouldn't be scared of them. America should be scared of the leaders offering very few solutions.
Speakers like Mike Church asking, "How many of you out there are fans of modern day slavery?" and the talk-show host Andrew Wilkow simplifying taxes as "sending money to Washington and not getting it back" was the rhetorical fodder of the first hour and a half. The speakers pointed out problems with taxes, encroachment on individual liberties and big government financial concerns with fanatical zeal. They did not however state many solutions. Only McFarland had a path when she stated America couldn't change "unless the right candidates are elected" and called the crowd to vote at local polls.
Minutes before Lou Dobbs called the crowd "dangerous," Nick Rizzuto, producer of The Wilkow Majority, said, "Our motives can be summed up in one word: principal." Now, the President may not throw many strikes, but he's trying, and the "motive" for the Tea Party's existence should be to find answers not problems and until that happens, America should be afraid of them.