Live From a Tea Party -- Up Close and Personal in Sacramento

By Patrick DorinsonPolitical Commentator

Under a bright blue California sky, close to 6,000 people have gathered on the West Front of the State Capitol and said "Enough!" I ran into an old California Highway Patrol officer I know and he said that he thought this was one of the biggest rallies we have had at the Capitol in many years. As I was leaving they were still coming.


This movement has more legs than the elitist commentators at CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC and MSNBC give it credit for.


These aren't radicals as some are charging. There are young families with strollers, baby boomers, seniors, veterans, ranchers, bikers, firemen, farmers and small business owners. While mostly conservative, the folks I talked to seemed to be of many political points of view including Libertarians and many independents. They came with their homemade signs that were very creative and humorous. Unlike an ACORN or SEIU labor rally there were no mass produced printed signs handed out by any one group. But the messages on the signs all had things in common --- stop the spending, no more taxes, and fire the politicians.

There was a guy in a suit of tar and feathers, many carried replicas of the famous flag from the American Revolution with the motto, "Don't Tread on Me." And there was a sea of American flags of all sizes and many wore red white and blue or ball caps emblazoned with the words "Vietnam Veteran" or that great American icon Harley Davidson.

Many folks here were first time protesters.

I spoke with three guys who said while they participated in politics and regularly voted, they had never attended something like this before. Glenn is a civil engineer, John is an independent architect and Jeff is a contractor. They are not the right wing radicals that the folks in the mainstream media seem to think this whole movement is about. They are hard working people who are watching the country they have worked to help build spending and taxing with no end in sight. Glenn was particularly angry with the waste he sees in government.

California might be unique among the many Tea Party locations around the country in that we will have a statewide election in a little more than a month where the only things on the ballot are six initiatives about taxes, spending and borrowing. There were many signs at the rally railing against these measures that were part of a budget deal produced by the Legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger.

The measures are not doing well in recent public polling. After being among this crowd today, and as a longtime observer of California politics, I think that Arnold is in big trouble and is about to get handed a big defeat by the voters no matter how much they spend on television ads. -- Sometimes there are things that are just more powerful than ads.

Seeing it all up close today I think this movement has more legs than the elitist commentators at CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC and MSNBC give it credit for. They show their contempt for the participants by dismissing them as right wingers, Republicans and radicals. I think that's because they sit in their anchor chairs in Washington, New York or Atlanta telling the rest of us how we should live when they have no idea how regular folks really live. They are so out of touch they should be embarrassed.

My guess is that come election time next year a lot of pundits and politicians who scoff at this movement might be eating a lot of crow. They had better start now because as the old cowboy saying goes, "The best way to eat crow is while it's still warm. The colder it gets the harder it is to swaller."