For the umpteenth time this year, swarms of tea partiers will descend on the nation’s capital to rail against the Democrats who they say have set this nation on a path that ends with a hammer and/or sickle. Yes, it’s 9/12, one of the biggest holidays of the year for the tea party movement — maybe even the most sacred day on the tea party calendar, second, arguably, only to Tax Day, April 15.
Follow my live coverage of the event throughout the day here.
Today, thousands of angry conservatives will march from the Washington Monument to the front lawn of the Capitol where they’ll be fired up by plenty of rhetorical lighter fluid from a conservative speaker corps including Andrew Breitbart, Dick Armey and Erick Erickson. Much like they did the last several times they headed to DC, the speakers are expected to declare the rally the end of the line for Democrats.
Thousands of the conservative faithful in DC? Big speeches from the most irascible public figures on the right? I know what you’re thinking — didn’t we just see this movie two weeks ago? The answer is yes…and no. Glenn Beck’s August 28 “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial was the Fox News star’s sequel to last year’s 9/12 rally (you know, that one that basically every American alive attended, according to Beck) and featured some of the same audience who attended last year’s 9/12 event.[TPM SLIDESHOW: Scenes from the 2009 9/12 rally]
But the August 28 rally was arguably more about Beck than the tea party. For the tea party movement, 9/12 is the big daddy, the FreedomWorks-sponsored national day of conservatives getting their Howard Beale on. Where Beck’s August 28 event tried a little too hard to keep politics out, expect today’s rally to be nothing but politics — the official kickoff for an election year the tea party thinks it can claim as its own.
“The general theme [this year] is ‘We Will Remember in November,'” FreedomWorks’ Matt Kibbe told the Daily Caller last week. Kibbe also said that instead of last year’s looser format focused on giving grassroots organizers time at the mic, “we’re going to structure the event a little more specifically around the 10 issues in the Contract FROM America.”
Kibbe referred to the relatively vague list of political commandments that tea parties are calling on candidates to swear allegiance to this year. Number one on the list is “Protect the Constitution.” Number five: “Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government.” That’s the general gist, though there are a couple specific policy items like “Reject Cap & Trade” (number 3) and “Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care” (7).
The contract was built from the grassroots up by tea partiers across the country who cast votes on the project’s website for which tenets they liked. The list was revealed back on Tax Day to broad approval from Republican leaders in Washington.
It was at the last 9/12 rally that the tea party really emerged onto the national stage. The number of protesters who packed DC while most of America was still feeling pretty good about Obama was overblown by organizers, but it was still enough to impress the media and Republican politicians who began falling in line with the tea party over the course of the year that followed.
Will this year’s rally have the same impact? Probably not. Angry, loud and paranoid bands of conservatives storming Capitol Hill have become part of the political landscape since September 12, 2009. The tea partiers, political outsiders when they showed up last year, now have their own House caucus.
The potential crowd size is unclear, too, with few projections of just how many people are going to show up floating around out there.
But with elections looming — and tea party candidates potentially poised to win seats in Congress — today’s FreedomWorks jamboree could be the starting gun for the tea party movement’s victory lap.