Even grey clouds had a silver lining for the thousand or so Tea Partiers at Wednesday’s the Audit The IRS rally. “No sun means no heat,” Andrew Langer, president of the Institute for Liberty, told the crowd sitting on lawn chairs and standing in the grass on the west front of the Capitol.
The Tea Party emerged as a dominant political force in the 2010 midterm election. Its activist zeal, fueled by fear of growing debt and loathing for Barack Obama and health-care reform — and amplified by low Democratic turnout in November— helped Republicans gain 63 new seats in the House and retake the majority, as well as six seats in the Senate. Many activists at the rally Wednesday waxed nostalgic for that golden year, and expressed their disappointment with the course of subsequent events.
Kevin Kookogey, the president of the group Linchpins of Liberty, said that his organization was one of those flagged by the IRS for additional scrutiny because of its conservative name and beliefs. The government, said Kookogey, who is white, was returning to a time when Americans would be “enslaved” by “being forced to sit on the back of the bus.”
But while the rally was aimed at the IRS, few others responded to jibes from speakers aimed at Elijah Cummings, the Democrat on the panel who has pouredcold water on GOP claims of a Washington-controlled conspiracy to target conservative groups.
The tea partiers were plenty willing to go at GOP. Lou Hayworth—an upstate New Yorker in a tie-dyed shirt holding a sign that read “I’m not a serf I am a born free American”— said that he’d volunteered in 2010 for congressional candidate Nan Hayworth, but complained that after winning office Martonelli became “an establishment Republican.” He didn’t vote for her in 2012, when she became one of ten freshman Republicans to lose reelection bids.
Hayworth was hardly the only Republican who’d disappointed attendees. John Boehner was the subject of scorn from countless signs, including one displaying the pair of testicles that “Odumbo” had taken from him. Mark and Cheryl Griffin travelled from Fort Pierce, Florida to register their discontent with Marco Rubio, who they’d ardently supported just three years ago when he was an insurgent Tea Party conservative facing an uphill battle in a U.S. Senate primary. But now that Rubio has joined the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” working on immigration reform, the Griffins say they feel betrayed by the man they simply call “Marco.” Mark said Marco disappointed him first by embracing what he called “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, and again when the first-term senator credited Democratic colleagues Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin with having “the best interests of the country at heart.”
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