Damn, that was fun!
Some say the crowd was 2,000 and some say 3,000. But considering we did this on a weeknight, outdoors, in the cold, I think this was a pretty good turnout.
It was such a big deal that the local media covered our departure!
I even had my five seconds of fame on WMDT-TV, uncredited. Maybe I’ll see if there’s a link.
More importantly, though, we had a full bus.
We arrived in Annapolis just as the sun was going down. There was a reason we arrived fairly early, and it wasn’t just so I could get a picture of the crew setting up inside the venue.
Nor was it to get the photo of this gentleman dressed for the next Revolution.
No, the reason we were early was a pleasant surprise. State Senator Harris and other GOP members of the General Assembly hosted a reception for some of those arriving at the Senate Office Building. About a dozen members gave us a rundown on the upcoming session.
Among the speakers, most noteworthy was Delegate Michael Smigiel’s call to us to look at the elected official’s term as a whole when considering them for re-election. He also pointed out the advice of Article 6 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights:
Legislators and executive officers are trustees of public; right of people to reform or establish new government. That all persons invested with the Legislative or Executive powers of Government are the Trustees of the Public, and, as such, accountable for their conduct: Wherefore, whenever the ends of Government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the People may, and of right ought, to reform the old, or establish a new Government; the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind. (Emphasis mine.)
Senator Allan Kittleman continued that the protest “is not a partisan movement.” But we were “fighting for open government and accountability” and Kittleman thought the General Assembly hadn’t properly held Governor O’Malley accountable.
Delegate (and candidate for Governor) Pat McDonough chimed in that this is the time to get involved, and “the sleeping giant in America has awakened.”
Delegate Joe Boteler (a monoblogue favorite) alerted us to the fact that the budget, which was only $11 billion 14 years ago, is now $32 billion and climbing.
Finally, Delegate Steve Schuh emphasized that a “show of force” had worked before in Annapolis, citing the repeal of the “tech tax” and adoption of Jessica’s Law as examples. He also quoted Jefferson, “when government advances, freedom retreats.”
It then was time to head over to Lawyers Mall, where I ran into friends old and new. Obviously the people organizing this had little idea what to expect, least of all the weather. They did have a “snow date” picked out, but as it turned out the weather was chilly but clear and not much wind. Quite honestly, being up front where I was I stayed pretty warm.
Much as the several other TEA Parties and related events I’d attended, by and large most of the speakers weren’t your typical politicians. Rather, it seemed that the itinerary of speakers were there to represent both a sponsoring group and a different topic. A number of speakers stuck with one topic such as property taxes, the impact of government on small businesses (“the role of government is to stop punishing success”), redistricting after the 2010 Census, legislative pay and pensions, and the Tenth Amendment.
Acting as master of ceremonies was Dave Schwartz of AFP Maryland, who opened the rally by telling us to understand that government can’t solve our problems – rather, it was profit and prosperity that makes us great. He continued, “for the first time in a long time, taxpayers have a chance to take back our state.”
Speaking on behalf of the Institute for Liberty, Andrew Langer told those of us who were braving the cold that, “we have to hold government accountable – that’s why we’re here!” He announced a project called the Liberty Scorecard, which graded legislators based on their voting records. (Gee, that sounds familiar!)
While there were a number of GOP Delegates and Senators in attendance, they weren’t brought to the podium to speak. Obviously this saved time, but it also made the event less overtly political or partisan. But we did hear from one man who is running for Congress in Maryland’s Fifth Congressional District – the highly polished and passionate Charles Lollar.
Lollar told us what we already knew – 149 years of one-party rule in the Maryland General Assembly was enough! Taking shots at Democrats like Senator Harry Reid, he noted “conservatism is not a racist message” and that the 2010 elections are “about America.”
All the while, the crowd was definitely into the message – some even had their own:
While Lollar was at the podium to help promote his run, other would-be elected officials were working the crowd. One who stopped and said hello was U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge.
And we didn’t forget the roots of the protest.
Aside from AFP, another sponsor was the Campaign for Liberty.
Remember the early shot of Lawyers Mall? This is one I took later on from my spot in the crowd.
I was surprised to find out our local AFP chapter had asked a speaker to come to the rally, and her introduction made certain to point out she was a Democrat who worked for fiscal conservatism. In fact, I believe she was the only actual elected official to speak.
Debbie Campbell noted that, “until people who think like we do get on the policy side of the table, we won’t change.” She also pointed out Salisbury’s wastewater treatment debacle. Just hope that she’s not thrown out of the local Democratic Party for showing up here.
Unfortunately, coming up on the bus meant that I had to leave just a little early as the final speaker was slated to be Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. I think this gives you a pretty good flavor of how things went, though.
The overall theme of this rally was one of continuing to work on a daily basis. It’s great to be with hundreds of people of like mind but most of the hard work comes from each individual spreading the word and being an advocate for limiting government’s size and responsibility over one’s life. If each of those 2,000 to 3,000 people spreads the message daily between now and Election Day, chances are good that we’ll shock the world and succeed with a seismic shift of governance in Annapolis.
We were told that this was the very first TEA Party of 2010, so hopefully we’ve set a good tone for the rest and all that work pays off come November!