Tea parties seem to be the real deal. The widespread misreporting of these April 15 events is a cause for concern. The tea parties are not a tax protest. They are not organized by Fox News or hidden wealthy people. They were not attended by crackpots.
What they were and are is like the protest I attended in Bemidji, these events are a statement concerning the direction and size of government based upon trends identified over the past few months. There is concern that government spending is out of control and unaccountable. There is concern that mistakes are being made that will need to be paid for by at least two generations not yet born.
I found the protesters surprisingly well informed on monetary policy and constitutional governance. I found little fear, ample concern and solid resolve. That resolve seemed to have been shared by thousands of horn-blowing truck and car drivers flashing victory signs as they passed the blocks of protesters on Bemidji Avenue.
The words "grass roots" is overused these days, but this protest movement is the closest thing to genuine concern by working Americans that I've seen. The Bemidji event was organized by GOP friends that I made during the 2008 campaign and was paid for by small donations from the hundreds of people who showed up to exercise their First Amendment rights.
A final observation on the tea parties in Minnesota needs to be made. The protesters were surprisingly aware that our DFL-controlled Minnesota Legislature is following the lead of Congress. While the numbers are billions instead of trillions, our Legislature is dedicated to business as usual and a raft of taxes to pay for it. Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, has a sweeping income tax increase sitting in committee and ready to mysteriously show up in the omnibus tax bill.
DFL legislators have dozens of tax-raising schemes at a time when state government should be shrinking, economizing and getting out of our face. Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji, has signed onto 111 bills -- a stunning 34 of them spending bills. It seems that he didn't get the memo about "no money." There are 302 bills on taxation before the Legislature; there will be plenty of taxes to pay for Persell's spending habit.
The tea parties seem plenty authentic and triggered by tone-deaf politicians and unprecedented government growth.