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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tea Party comes to Wichita – lacks enthusiasm

The Tea Party protest held last Friday were a far cry from the usual numbers for these events. A friend who was there, Tim, said their numbers were much smaller. The Wichita Eagle reported there were hundreds, far fewer than the thousands found at most of these events.
Tim said most of the Tea Party members were older than 65, with very few being under the age of 50. He said they used canned or recorded applauses for the speakers who appeared, similar to the 1950s TV shows. He also said the opposition Coffee Party protesters lacked imagination and held dreary uninspired signs. The entire event, according to him, was depressing and lacked any real enthusiasm on either side. .
“The Tea Party People call themselves patriotic and yet they talk about overthrowing the governments,” Tim said.

According the The Wichita Eagle:

“Waving signs blasting taxes and national health care, several hundred conservatives gathered near Wichita City Hall on Thursday for their annual tax day "tea party" protest.
But unlike last year's event near Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, this time people could pick their party.
A group calling itself the "Coffee Party" counterdemonstrated nearby, saying they wanted to bring civility back to civil discourse.
The tea party rally was one of scores of tax day rallies from Maine to Hawaii. In Washington, several thousand rallied in the shadow of the Ronald Reagan office building, capping a national protest of the tax system, government spending and the Obama administration.”

Much of Wichita’s Focus was on the recent health care reform. Again, according to The Wichita Eagle:

“The crowd cheered enthusiastically when Rep. Aaron Jack, R-Andover, outlined a resolution he's sponsoring in the state Legislature to force Attorney General Steve Six to have Kansas join a suit by 18 other states challenging the constitutionality of the new federal health law.
Jack pointed out that Six was appointed by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who, as the federal secretary of Health and Human Services, would be a main defendant in the lawsuit.
"It's a gross injustice and a very significant conflict of interest to choose your old boss over the people of Kansas," he said.”

While opposition to the health care reform has been a driving national force, local tax issues have also risen up at these Tea Party rallies. According to The Wichita Eagle:

“While much of the talk was about state and national issues, local government didn't escape the wrath of the tea party.
Sprinkling in references to the WaterWalk and Warren Theatre projects, restaurateur Craig Gabel and lawyer Kenny Estes decried the city's spending millions of dollars in public money to facilitate private development.
"When the owner of a movie theater says, 'I want to build an IMAX but I need help,' what should you say?" Estes asked the crowd.
"No!" the crowd shouted.”

Not every item the Tea Party opposes is wrong. All the above programs have been promoted by the City of Wichita when drastic cuts are being made to the local school budget. Programs such as foreign language and speech tournaments have been cut along with firing teachers, and yet the city thinks it can afford fancy developments, such as The Water Walk development along the downtown and a tax supported improvement to the Warren Theatre. Local entertainment is more important to them than funding education. Not everything the Tea Party members oppose are wrong headed. They need a clear sense of where they are headed and what role government should play in our lives.

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