Tea Party Protests VS. Protesting Police Force, Low Wages: Where Americans Are Truly Focused

In light of the “Justice for All” march in Washington, D.C., (a protest in our nation’s capital that actually drew people), one has to wonder just what the American people are actually angry about. Various Tea Partiers keep claiming that Americans’ outrage is directed at things like Obamacare, executive orders, gun control, and the like. We’ve seen their marches fizzle time and again, though, while people actually show up to protest police brutality and the minimum wage. Where does the outrage lie?

The Tea Party has been trying to hold protests and rallies pretty much since Obama’s election in 2008. Major rallies protesting immigration, proposed gun legislation, and trying to oust Obama from office repeatedly fizzle and die. They don’t gain enough steam for their protests to really warrant repeat performances that grow each time, which are ultimately what determines the success or failure of a particular protest. Take the following examples:

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Larry Klayman’s “Reclaim America” march.

Take Larry Klayman’s “Reclaim America” protest. At the time, Klayman was so confident that millions of Americans were fed up with the Muslim tyrant in the White House that he believed the rally would launch a second (peaceful) American Revolution. He was dead certain that this was the way to force Obama to resign from office in light of all his illegal behavior (they also wanted corrupt Republicans and pretty much everyone else out of office as well). A few weeks afterward, delegates from all 50 states, along with other “patriots,” would reconvene in Philadelphia, where they would, in Klayman’s own words, “plan for the rest of the revolution and elect a government in waiting, ethically and competently poised to take over the reigns [sic] of a real government responsive to the people.”

This “awesome” rally drew a measly couple hundred people. It was useless in getting anybody at all to resign from office, to say nothing of building a new government in the image that the Tea Party thinks our original government once existed.

The underwhelming “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” protest.

This was a protest in which truckers were to come to the Capitol and clog up the Beltway in protest of, you guessed it, too much government intrusion. About 30 truckers showed up for that. Police in both Maryland and Virginia reported no major accidents or congestion, according to The Washington Post. In short, it ended up being a non-event, despite expecting a few thousand truckers to show up.

The “Million Vet March” had a good showing, but accomplished what?

The “Million Vet March,” which protested barricading war memorials during last year’s government shutdown, did draw a few thousand people according to ABC News. These protesters just moved some barricades from the memorials and placed them in front of the White House, or just off to the side. Then they entered the memorials. The entire protest was over who was to blame for the shutdown, and who the shutdown was hurting, but it failed to draw the million veterans its name implied would be there.

Also, we have to ask, what did they really accomplish? Would they do it again, in protest of other closures, or against, say, cutting military benefits and VA funding? They haven’t so far.

Michele Bachmann’s protest over Obama’s immigration order.

Michele Bachmann tried to organize a rally for Dec. 3 of this year, to protest Obama’s executive order on immigration. She even went on Fox News to tout the rally, according to Mother Jones, and asked viewers to attend. The rally became more of a press conference, with about 40 protesters in all. In short, it was a miserable failure, despite her apparent belief that she could once again tap some unseen rage about Obama’s tyranny, and show him just how much America hates him.

In 2009, when she called for a rally to protest the Affordable Care Act, she did manage to draw thousands of people. According to a different piece in Mother Jones, many of those people were bused in courtesy of the Koch-backed group, Americans for Prosperity. But, five years ago, Americans’ outrage was focused on other things. The Tea Party was new, and far more influential than they are today, and they were addressing things that everyday people were actually angry about.

Today, that’s just not the case, as Bachmann’s failed rally illustrates. Americans today are more concerned about other injustices that the Tea Party has sadly failed to address, or even really notice: Low wages and police brutality.

Protesting the minimum wage.

Thousands of people turn up repeatedly for minimum wage protests, the most recent of which spanned 190 cities, according to USA Today. The first such protest was a single-day strike at a McDonald’s in New York City two years ago. 200 workers from 40 different fast food restaurants convened outside that McDonald’s to protest their wages and working conditions.

It didn’t necessarily seem like a movement that would gather any steam. A one-day strike, where the striking workers knew they’d return to their jobs the next day whether their demands were met or not, doesn’t seem like much of a recipe for success. The New Yorker says, however, that by early 2013, the protests had spread to the Midwest, with hundreds of workers in cities like Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Kansas City, walking off the job to protest their wages and demand their right to unionize.

By the summer of 2013, these protests had made their way into the South. By December, over 100 cities were playing host to these protests. Now it’s thousands of workers in 190 cities in 35 states.

The movement hasn’t accomplished very much on the national stage; a bill to raise the federal minimum wage remains stalled in Congress. However, their calls for a minimum of $15 an hour—something that sounded absolutely absurd a mere two years ago—seem somewhat reasonable today. In fact, Seattle raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour in November. The state of Illinois is set to raise its minimum wage to $13 an hour gradually over the next several years (we’ll see what newly-elected Republican governor Bruce Rauner does with that, though).

What does the Tea Party think about the minimum wage?

The group Tea Party Patriots, which has either shown support for, or been one of the groups behind, some of these huge protests against Obama that managed to draw tens of angry Americans, doesn’t believe in raising the minimum wage. Instead, they would rather say that history shows raising the minimum wage increases unemployment (in fact, history shows nothing of the sort). The Blaze blasted MSNBC for reporting that Tea Party leaders did support raising the minimum wage, and published part of Tea Party Patriots’ statement on the matter. It showed considerable tone-deafness on the issue of the minimum wage.

Protesting racism and police brutality.

On another front, more than 10,000 people descended on Washington, D.C. just today to protest police brutality. An even bigger protest marched its way through the streets of Manhattan. Al Sharpton helped organize the “Justice For All” march in D.C., which could explain part of its popularity, but not the size and scope of protests around the country for this very same thing.

Following the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, protests erupted in more than 170 cities across the U.S. In places like Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, Boston, and more, these protests blocked bridges and tunnels and snarled traffic, but unlike Ferguson itself, were largely peaceful, according to CNN. Many protests were only hundreds strong, but their widespread nature made it clear that thousands upon thousands of Americans were angry about what transpired in Ferguson.

After another grand jury refused to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner, protests against police brutality gained steam. In fact, protests are so widespread that Congressional aides walked off their jobs in support of ending police brutality. Others participated in “die-ins,” in which they lay on the floor in places like Grand Central Station, department stores, and even the Verizon Center, where the Washington Wizards play.

In some cities, these protests only drew about 50 people. In others, they were thousands strong. CNN reports that these protesters represent a mix of ages and races, also; they aren’t just black people. The protests culminated in what happened today, with tens of thousands of people in Washington D.C., and a veritable sea of people in New York City.

The New York City protest did imply that there would be millions marching, and they drew anywhere from 12,000 to 50,000 people, depending on who’s talking. However, given how many cities have marches and protests going on, compared to Tea Party rallies calling for similar numbers, these protests have a lot higher rate of participation.

What does the Tea Party say here?

What’s the Tea Party’s reaction to these protests about the recent incidents of police brutality? They seem to be fairly silent. Teaparty.org has been posting stories from sources as disparate as USAToday and Newsmax on the issue. The Tea Party Patriots Facebook page is awash in…complaints about the ACA and executive amnesty, with a few posts screaming about net neutrality and the IRS scandal sprinkled in. Where are the posts and articles either supporting the police, or railing against their excessive use of force? They’re saying nothing.

So where do Americans really direct their outrage now?

If people can find the time to protest the minimum wage and police brutality, why can’t they find the time to join the protests that members of the Tea Party claim have the support of millions? The simple answer? The outrage is no longer where the Tea Party thinks it is.

Depending on which poll you look at, Americans either marginally approve, or marginally disapprove, of Obama’s action on immigration. However, Americans just aren’t angry enough about it to flock to Washington and protest about it. Despite the Tea Party’s cries that this is just one more thing on the pile of evidence proving that President Obama is a tyrant, what people are actually upset about is Congressional inaction on immigration.

As far as violating the Constitution repeatedly, back in July, Rasmussen found that 44% of Americans think Obama is less faithful to the Constitution than past U.S. presidents. But that same poll found that people increasingly think the government should run efficiently, even if that means not always sticking to our Constitutional system of checks and balances.

There’s not enough anger there, either, to descend on Washington, or rise up in other cities, and protest in any significant manner. About the only Tea Party protests that show real support are the ones that happen on Tax Day every year. That makes some sense, too, since Americans feel increasingly frustrated with our tax system.

So where is the real outrage? What’s gaining steam? The answer is clear, and shows just how tone-deaf the Tea Party has become.


Featured image by Jamelle Bouie. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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