Anti-tax movement holds 'Tea Party' to protest Obama policies
Muriel Kane
Published: Friday February 27, 2009

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Describing themselves as the spark of a "new conservative counterculture," several thousand anti-tax protesters took to the streets in over thirty cities on Friday to object to President Obama's plans to counter the growing economic crisis with government spending.

The extensive media coverage of the event was perhaps disproportionate to the actual size of the protests, which drew around 200 to 300 participants in most locations. The greatest turnout may have been in St. Louis, Missouri, where some 1000 people showed up.

The protest was inspired by a rant against Obama's housing bailout plan delivered last week from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade by CNBC's Rick Santelli, who denounced struggling homeowners as "losers." Planning moved ahead quickly, thanks to the use of YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and especially Twitter.

The protesters identify themselves with the revolutionaries who dumped tea in Boston Harbor in 1773. Some wore 18th century garb to the protests, while others were described as wearing tea bags. Organizers have sworn to deposit tens of thousands of teabags on the floor of the US Congress.

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin calls the protesters "a fledgling grassroots movement." However, sociologist Eugenia Deerman, a student of conservative social movements, told the Christian Science Monitor, "I’m suspicious only because ... the conservative movement has repeatedly used this tactic of creating an appearance of grassroots activism when they’re actually very well orchestrated."

Many progressives are also skeptical of the grassroots claim. For example, blogger Jeffrey Feldman points out that the Washington, DC sponsors of the events include such old-line anti-tax groups as Americans for Prosperity, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, and FreedomWorks.

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