Last year, the crowd “estimate” for the April 15 Tea Party in Joplin was 1000, which, of course, wasn’t really close to the actual number. I estimated that crowd at about 500 to 600 folks.
This year, there was about half that number, probably less than 300. So, by any standards, the Tea Party this year was a little lame.
But I did have a good time attending the event.
I talked with many people, some holding strange signs and some just standing, listening, and applauding whatever it was that John Putnam was saying. And, honestly, some of the people holding ridiculous and blatantly false signs were actually nice to talk to.
I talked to one pleasant couple who didn’t seem like they really belonged at the event, since they didn’t sound as extreme as their signs would indicate. In fact, after talking to them, I found that the health care reform law that upset them so much really contained a lot of stuff they liked. The nice lady actually admitted that her views were “to the left” of her husband’s, especially on the health care issue.
Another lady, who attended with her mother, said she thought all our representatives, Republicans and Democrats, should only get one term and then come home. If they stay longer, she urged, they will just get corrupted. There is, of course, some truth to that.
But not all of the people I talked to were as nice.
One guy I was photographing took offense at a question I ask him about his sign. Here is the sign in question, which should look familiar because I have posted about it before:
I tried to ask him what his sign meant, which set him off. At one point, he walked up and got in my face and threatened me, and I had to gently push him back. After that, he seemed to calm down a little bit, so I decided to crank up the video:
Although I disagree with the guy, he had every right to tote his sign to the event and display it, but apparently the organizer, John Putnam, didn’t think so. According to this guy and an independent witness I talked to, Mr. Putnam tried to get him removed from the sidewalk. Presumably because the sign sent a message contrary to what Mr. Putnam envisioned for his rally.
As for other signs—messages—here are a few I saw:
I found something rather disturbing as I read through the messages written on a long “scroll,” provided, presumably, for folks to express their grievances against the government. Notice the “regime” reference, straight from the lips of Rush Limbaugh:
I took the time to interview a gentleman who was holding a sign that cried out for explanation. Here’s the interview:
Finally, what is a Joplin Tea Party without a new costume gracing the body of John Putnam? Incidentally, on KZRG this morning (an event sponsor), before the event got underway I heard Kara Marxer interview Mr. Putnam and she remarked about his nifty uniform, saying something about his “Hessian boots.”
Gently, the head of the Jasper County Republicans reminded her that they were not Hessian boots, since the Hessians were on the other side of the fight in the Revolutionary War. Whoops!