Health Care Tea Party Sioux Falls Report

I’ve not read any other reports on the Tea Party to ensure that I was not unduly influenced by other perspectives (not that they would be wrong, they just wouldn’t be mine).

First, with reference to the numbers, I would guess that this event, while better organized and run (in comparison to the Tax Day Tea Party on April 15th) had fewer attendees overall. While the reasons for that are no doubt complicated, the single biggest one was that the level of outrage and disgust with government’s handling of the stimulus bill was not duplicated in yesterday’s event. But, I was talking about the numbers. I would estimate the attendance somewhere between 500 and 1000 people. Since the event was all afternoon (and part of the morning for some) people did come and go throughout the event, making exact numbers difficult to nail down. There was a registration process for the attendees, but that tended to count adults who came through the primary entrance to the grandstand (and didn’t slip in one of the other doors so as to avoid the greeting committee). Some petitions were in evidence (medical marijuana and secret balloting) as well as a postcard campaign (to request Senator Johnson to vote against the current hate crimes bill). Outside of the Tea Party organizers, tables were set up for everything from abstinence advocacy to open MRI to the the 9/12 group.

A  few friends and I had procured a couple hundred copies of the Heritage Foundation’s pocket-sized copy of the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We had no difficulty in giving these out (except for some reserved to our family, friends and coworkers) to a largely receptive crowd. I was asked a few times if I was representing the Constitution Party, but replied honestly that I hoped I was representing the Constitution.

In talking with 100 or so people, with perhaps 20 at some length, I very much received the impression the attendees at this event were more homogeneously conservative than those who came to the Tax Day assembly. Granted, my sampling may well have not been indicative of the whole, but the general response of the crowd to the various speakers seemed to bear this out.

Speaking of those who presented, one can find a list of them at the site linked to above. There seemed to be a good variety of perspectives on display. Most of the speakers managed to stay on the topic of the day, though there were one or two who took opportunity to leap aboard a hobbyhorse and ride it for a bit.

Unlike the event at Terrace Park a few days ago, I’ll not give detailed reporting on the speeches/presentations themselves since I was in and out of listening range throughout the event, and so would tend to provide a rather disjointed narrative.

Once again, as was pointed out in the last Tea Party, conservatives do not tend to the demonstrative–so it is somewhat against nature to actively protest. Most of the folks sat sedately in rows in the grandstand and applauded at the appropriate times. There were protest signs in view, though none of the ones I saw were being actively handled by protesters. Instead, they were stuck in the ground or printed on tee shirts. I think the venue had somewhat to do with that, with many people seeing the structure of the presentations as making this much more of a seminar of sorts than an active protest.

Did yesterday’s Tea Party achieve its goals? I do not know. Since I was not an organizer of the event, I do not know what the goals were. I would guess that the turnout was less than desired. Nonetheless, I am glad that I went and was able to encourage a few people to read what is still a very important, foundational legal document.

It is by remembering (and by teaching a new generation) what is and what is not the legal responsibility of the federal and state governments that we will be able to properly decide issues, such as health care, which are currently in the public forum.

Update

The Argus provides its take on the event. Title of article not indicative of paper’s politics.

KELO writes it up then tells us that Herseth Sandlin has assured us that Congress is not considering nationalized health care.