Tags: tea | party | bachmann | obama

Tea Party Patriots Descend on U.S. Capitol

Thursday, 05 Nov 2009 12:39 PM

By David A. Patten

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Still reeling from stinging election setbacks in New Jersey and Virginia, congressional Democrats braced Thursday for a massive grassroots-conservative rally on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, part of Tea Party Patriot efforts try to derail the Obama administration's plans for a federal overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

Tea Party Patriots leaders estimate 10,000 to 20,000 persons are on hand – far more than the 2,000 originally predicted.

"It is just overwhelming," Tea Party spokesman Everett Wilkinson tells Newsmax. "The lines to get into the offices are going around the block. I've been telling people it doesn't matter which office you try to get into specifically, just try to get into one. A short line is half a block."

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See Video: Watch scenes from the Tea Party Patriots’ march on the Capitol - Click Here Now

Actor Jon Voight and conservative author and radio host Mark Levin encouraged the overflowing crowd to insist that their political representatives oppose the $1.2 trillion healthcare reform bill now working its way through Congress.

Wilkinson reports police have said they are having difficulty processing the large number of attendees, despite the fact that all building entrances were being used and the crowd is calm and well behaved.

"One representative came out of the U.S. Capitol – I don't know who he was – and was approach by several members here who asked him: 'Are you going to vote to kill the bill?'" Wilkinson said. "He just blew them off. He was obviously a member of Congress. I think we still need to apply pressure, but the overall sentiment, certainly after the elections earlier this week, is one of excitement."

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who led the crowd in a moving rendition of God Bless America, has been calling for Tea Party and other grassroots groups to send a clear message to Congress.

The initial House of Representatives' vote on Speaker Nancy Pelosi's healthcare reform proposal could come as early as Saturday.

"The American people spoke loud and clear at town hall meetings all across the country throughout August," Bachmann said in a statement earlier this week. "But it would appear that Congress didn't hear a word they had to say … The American people need to stand up again and make sure that Congress hears them this time."

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Pundits say the Obama administration's inability to use the president's popularity to help re-elect Democrat Jon Corzine in New Jersey has shaken the confidence of Democrats from moderate districts and who can no longer count of the president's coattails to help them win re-election if they support unpopular legislation.

"This is it. This is the Super Bowl of freedom we're looking at right now," Bachmann says.

Speaking in a YouTube video, Bachmann has been urging voters to make "a house call on Congress … to tell Congress what they can do with their healthcare bill."

She's urging Americans to walk up and down the halls of the Capitol on Thursday, knock on doors, find their congressional representatives, and tell them they oppose what Bachmann calls the socialization of American healthcare.

"Go into the Capitol and find members of Congress. Don't bring your pitchforks," she says, "bring your video cameras. And get them on record saying how they're going to vote and why."

When congressional staffers aren't looking out their office windows at the gathering crowds, they will probably be busy Thursday answering their phones and picking up faxes. That's because activists unable to attend the rally are planning phone and fax campaigns to members of Congress, to make known their views on healthcare reform.

"We need everyone to come and look at their member of Congress in the eye and say, 'Don't you dare take away control over my healthcare from me!' At the bottom line, that's what this is all about," Bachmann says.

Moderates nervously eyeing Tuesday's election results also are witnessing the grassroots' evolution from a protest movement to a politically engaged force, as reflected in the demolition of liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava's candidacy in New York District 23.

That race was won by Democrat Bill Owens. Scozzafava, whose campaign reportedly received over $1 million in funding from the national GOP, pulled out of the race and endorsed the Democrat over conservative favorite Doug Hoffman.

Privately, Republicans and conservatives are expressing confidence they will reclaim that District 23 seat from Democrats in the next election. They are dismissing the notion that Scozzafava's forced exit and Hoffman's defeat will hurt the GOP's future prospects.

During the campaign's waning days, the Tea Party Patriots and other conservatives launched phone-bank campaigns that involved members around the country calling New York and New Jersey residents in key districts, urging them to support conservative principles.

Some political analysts have criticized those efforts as unsophisticated and possibly even counterproductive – because voters tend to resist outside influences on local races. But the larger point is that the groups are beginning to actively translate their organizations into power at the ballot box.

Immediately after the election, for example, the leaders of grassroots organizations began to discuss what they did right and wrong, and what lessons they can learn to be more effective in future elections.

Tea Party Patriots, for example, is developing "candidate cards" for future elections that would rate politicians on key principles of limited government, low taxes, and free markets. The objective: To publish a rating on every U.S. candidate running for office in the 2010 midterms.

This ongoing evolution into the realm of power politics could well have a chilling effect on politicians who have now seen, in District 23, the high price some voters will exact on candidates who overlook their districts' center-right leanings.

Today's Tea Party rally is but the latest in a series of events, rallies, and activities that have been simmering continuously throughout the year.

Combined with the anti-incumbent, anti-Washington mood that the electorate conveyed in Tuesday's elections, the rally will give Democrats a lot to think about as the administration's push for ObamaCare moves into its final stages in the days and weeks to come.

"I think what's happening is people are choosing policy, not a party," Everett Wilkinson, a national spokesman for Tea Party Patriots, tells Newsmax. "People are registering more and more as Independents every day … People want to make a decision based on where a candidate stands on the issues, not their party. This is going to happen more and more in the future: The American people are going to look at candidates' policies and issues, rather than the political parties that they are affiliated with."

The increasingly independent attitude of the electorate could be a major problem for Democrats, given polls showing that Independents are shifting away from Democrats and Obama in droves.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell tells Newsmax that the time has come for national GOP leaders to accept the rising strength of grassroots activists.

"I think the RNC better run around the block, and get in front of the grassroots parade," Blackwell tells Newsmax. "We can only rebuild the GOP by articulating conservative principles, inspiring our base, decentralizing operations, and building the technical infrastructure that will unite millions of Republicans behind the common goal of conservative resurgence across the country."

Blackwell warns that it won't be enough to just pay lip service to the conservative activists and use them politically.

"The engaged participants in Tea Parties and town halls are not going to be abused and used anybody they perceive to be opportunistic and phony" Blackwell says. "At the end of the day, the future, and the revitalization, and the re-establishment of the GOP as America's majority party, will turn on our leadership's ability to understand that its future is tied to the conservative base.

"Contrary to what the pundits on MSNBC, CNN, and in newsrooms across the country try to tell us, this is not some extreme movement," Blackwell says. "This is a movement that is reflective of the general and pervasive attitude of America. Over their brie and Chablis, the pundits and strategists on the left know what's happening. They know that this is a genuine American movement. This is not some out-of-the-mainstream happening."

Bachmann insists that despite the efforts of Democratic leaders to present ObamaCare as unstoppable, it is anything but.

"I think there are Democratic members of Congress who love this country who will vote no on this bill," she says in the YouTube video. "It's not inevitable. We can win big time."

See Video: Watch scenes from the Tea Party Patriots’ march on the Capitol - Click Here Now

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