Organizers Predict Thousands of Tea Party Activists Will Attend Saturday’s March on Washington

By Pete Winn | September 9, 2009 | 9:59 PM EDT

A protest sign at the tea party rally at the State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

( - Hell hath no fury like an angry taxpayer ignored – and thousands of angry taxpayers are expected to come to the nation’s capital Saturday, Sept. 12, to march on the National Mall.

They are the same Americans who staged “tea parties” this Spring to protest the $700 billion mortgage bailout and passage of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill -- and the same people who turned out in droves over the August congressional break at town hall meetings around the country to express their outrage over a proposed trillion dollar health-care “reform.” 

This time, however, thousands upon thousands of them are expected to descend on "one place" -- D.C. -- at "one time" -- over the next three days, culminating in a 1 p.m. march on Saturday, according to march organizers. 

“I believe there is a new center in American politics around the idea of what we call ‘pocketbook conservatism,’ ” said Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, one of more than a dozen conservative organizations sponsoring the march.

Americans from all walks of life have already pledged to show up,  Kibbe said, with virtually every one of them telling organizers the same story: “ ‘I’ve never shown up at a Town hall meeting, I’ve never shown up at a protest, I’ve never even talked to my congressman, but I have to show up now because things (in Washington) are out of control,’ ” Kibbe said. 

This will likely be the largest gathering of fiscal conservatives ever, according to Adam Brandon of Freedom Works.

“It’s hard to think of a time when you had more than a couple of thousand people get together on strictly fiscally conservative issues,” Brandon said. “You get large abortion rallies, and large gun rallies, but this event is the first time fiscal conservative are coming together.”

In fact, the movement and the energy are brand new -- even if the issues are not, Kibbe said. But the disparate protesters will nevertheless bring "one message" to politicians.  

“They think the government is spending money it doesn’t have, and they think that generally that government is spending too much, the debt is too big, the deficit – which is $1.5 trillion -- is out of control, and anger over the government health-care proposal, the cap-and-trade tax, the bailouts and excessive taxes and spending, is all around the basic concept that we can’t spend money that we don’t have.”
Andrew Moylan, director of government affairs for the National Taxpayers Union – another sponsor -- said the people coming are not your typical conservative activists.
“NTU has been around for 40 years – and thousands of these people who have gone to town hall meetings and been involved in all these grassroots events are completely new to us – people who have never been on our radar before as an organization working on these issues,” Moylan said.
“These are not seasoned political operatives,” he added. “This is really a story about an organic movement made up of people who are frustrated by issues and wanting to do something about them. There’s no top-down management.”
As reported this week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) who returned to Capitol Hill Tuesday, dismissed the town hall protesters and went so far as to accuse the media of creating false impressions about the extent of the protests.
“The (media), particularly the television media, misrepresented the story in terms of the context of what happened” at the town halls. By focusing on the rowdy few, the television cameras prevented the public from seeing the majority of people who are either open to reform or support health care reform,” Hoyer said.
Earlier in August, Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif,), writing together in USA Today, called the town-hall protesters “unAmerican” and accused them of “ginning up” their opposition:
“It is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue,” they wrote. 
'Rant Heard 'Round the World'

Organizers of Saturday’s march, however, said the movement is real – and self-organized.
“People have been 'ginning' themselves up,” Moylan told “These are activists who are coming out of the woodwork, who we have never talked to before – never been on our radar, and are active and engaged in a way that they have never been before.” 

In fact, Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots, another organizer, also dismissed the criticism from Democratic leaders in Congress, saying that tea parties and town hall attendance are the products of 21st century social media -- namely Facebook and Twitter. 

“This movement started after (CNBC business analyst) Rick Santelli gave his 'rant' in February and the things that he was saying spoke to so many people across this country They don’t want to pay for their neighbor’s houses if they can’t afford them anymore. They don’t want to bailout things and organizations and individuals who haven’t been fiscally responsible, she said.
Santelli’s Feb. 19 on-air outbirst has been referred to as the "rant  heard ‘round the world."
“I have an idea,” the angry financial analyst said, “the new administration is big on computers and technology – how about this, president and new administration? Why don’t you put up a Web site to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages, or whether we would at least like to buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a chance to actually prosper down the road and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water.” 

Martin said, from that, the movement sprang up in an instant – tapping deep roots of anger.

“It was very spontaneous, we 'tweeted' about it,” she said. “Then we had a nationwide conference call with 22 people on Feb. 20. On February 27th we had 50 events across this country with over 30,000 people in attendance – with planning in a week’s time, five business days.”
People are just “very passionate about this,” Martin added. “Honestly, if we cancelled this right now, people would still show up because they want their voices heard.”
Kibbe, meanwhile, said activist training session will be held in DC on Thursday and Friday -- and thousands are expected to lobby their congressmen. Physicians will hold their own protest of looming government health care on Thursday evening. 

“All we’ve done is create the space for these guys to show up. They are paying their own way, chartering their own buses and booking their own hotels," Kibbe said. " All we are doing is creating the space. We’ve got the permits, we put the Web site together, we’ve got the coalition – but ultimately, if people aren’t angry enough to pay their own way to come, if they don’t care enough about freedom, they aren’t going to be there,” he said.
Details on the planned activities are available at the groups' Web site –