The scene today at the Capitol Hill Tea Party probably worried incumbents of both parties.
TPMDC was there, following every “Kill the bill” refrain and impromptu “USA! USA!” chant from the many thousands gathered on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol.
Evan captured the mood on the ground (with extra fun video of women singing their own anti-health care version of “Yankee Doodle”) and as we reported earlier, I stumbled upon tea partiers heckling police who had arrested protesters.
My takeaway after several hours interviewing people who had taken time off work, sacrificed sleep and hopped on buses to make the trip from across the country is that there is a real spark to the movement.
The group is angry, and in many cases ill-informed about the 1,900-page health care bill that they delighted in shredding across the Capitol today. But they vote, and each person told me they are angry with incumbents and government spending.“Pelosi can’t fire you but we can,” read one hand-drawn sign.
Stewart Gibb of Oceanview, Delaware held a bumper sticker he’d made: “No incumbents in 2010.” He said he opposes the $787 billion economic stimulus and the health care bill.
“Anybody that votes for any of these bills should be out,” Gibb told TPMDC.
Mike Alfred said he and his friend John Herrington came from Columbus, Ohio in the middle of the night “to get Congress’ attention.”
He also made the trip for the 9/12 rallies to tell members of Congress “they work for us.”
Alfred, calling himself a Reagan conservative, said he was worried because spending is out of control. He has been phoning his members’ offices but wanted to deliver the message in person.
The protesters marveled that the event was put together quickly, with many of them getting organized with just a few days notice.
Several Minnesota Republicans organized themselves thanks to this site of a “sisterhood of mommy patriots,” coming on three buses for 23 hours. They were on the ground less than 5 hours and then took the nearly one-day trip again to return home. The trip cost $200 per person.
Christi Becker, a freelance artist from a St. Paul suburb, told TPMDC Republicans “have no backbone anymore” and she prefers the GOP stick to conservative principles.
“I’m here representing 1,000 people,” she said. “I don’t think it’s the quantity of the numbers that matter, it’s the passion of the people who are here.”
Becker said she is a strong supporter of Rep. Michele Bachmann. “She exudes truth. I completely trust her,” she said.
She added: “I’m glad people are seeing that Michele Bachmann has backing and that so many people believe in her.”
There was plenty of anti-Obama sentiment at the event as well – the joker signs, impeach stickers and people questioning his country of birth, but the overall vibe was anti-incumbent.
Becker said she is anti-Obama because she feels he does not respect the Constitution. “I have never heard him say the word freedom,” she said. “I don’t trust him and I don’t trust anything about him.”
The partiers stormed the Capitol, getting some members’ attention but hardly registering with others.
About 50 protesters visited Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), his office said. In other offices, some dropped off literature, some staged sit-ins.
Anti-abortion protesters were also there in droves, suggesting the bill funds abortions (it does not) and re-enacting the scene we stumbled upon last week of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in hell.