Beltway Conservatives Comb Tea Party Movement for Converts

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Monday, September 14, 2009 at 6:27 pm
Demonstrators march at Saturday's Tea Party rally. (Photo by Aaron Wiener)

Demonstrators march at Saturday's Tea Party rally. (Photo by Aaron Wiener)

After four hours of listening to libertarians, Stephanie Chrise decided to get up and get argumentative. The Texas orthodontist, in town one day early for Saturday’s massive “taxpayer march on Washington,” had just heard Yaron Brooks, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, give a stemwinder of a speech based on the late objectivist philosopher and novelist’s work. Politicians from both parties, said Brooks, were looters who were stealing from Americans. Mike Huckabee was “more leftist than some of the Democrats.” Too many people had voted for the Democrats to redistribute wealth because they believed that “morality came from helping out this person who’s in distress.” To Chrise, it all sounded too selfish.

Image by: Matt Mahurin

Image by: Matt Mahurin

“I’m a Christian,” said Chrise, standing at one of the microphones set up for audience questions, wearing a glittering red baseball cap and a commemorative T-shirt from the April 15 San Antonio Tea Party — the rally where Glenn Beck recorded a live broadcast of his Fox News show. “I believe that we were given unalienable rights based on our God-given rights.” She struggled, but got to her argument. “Once we earn money, we should help people.”

There were annoyed and angry shouts of “No!” from the crowd of around 300 Tea Party activists. There was also some applause. The people who’d come to this “Intellectual Ammunition Strategy Session” at the National Press Club, sponsored by the Ayn Rand Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a more political, libertarian think tank, were sympathetic to what Brooks was saying. But some of them were skeptical, too, and applauded Chrise.

“There are things we can do for people that are altruistic,” said Chrise, “that are not socialist.”

Brooks didn’t flinch, and tried to give Chrise an objectivist way out — as long as giving to charity made her happy, she could do it. But for no other reason. “Our sense of morality needs to come out of our own lives,” he said. “It’s your life, in my view, that needs to become the focus of your life.”

Chrise leaned back into the microphone. “That’s exactly what Satan said.” As Brooks continued, Chrise made her way out of the room, stopping occasionally to shake hands, but hurrying as other participants shushed her.

By the standards of Q&As at political speeches, and certainly by the standards set during the town hall meetings that scored members of Congress this summer, Chrise’s dissent was mild stuff. It was, however, a revealing snapshot of the people who trekked to Washington to participate in the weekend’s historic protests. (In the run-up to the big day, FreedomWorks told reporters that 30,000 people would show up at the west lawn of the Capitol. Privately, some in the conservative group hoped and thought that the number would hit 100,000. The likely attendance number, around 60,000 to 70,000, would still make it the largest conservative protest ever to storm the Capitol.)

The arrival of the Tea Party movement has been a godsend for libertarian and conservative organizations, as they’ve offered their services to help organizers and upped their media bookings to talk about the small government grassroots that sprung, seemingly, from nowhere. In April, Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks argued that Tea Party protesters “represent a potentially potent new constituency for fiscal discipline and government restraint.” Sales of Ayn Rand’s books have surged this year, and organizers speak with pride about how members of the movement know more about bills in Congress than congressmen or senators. But as the movement arrived in Washington, some seams between the social conservative and economic-minded wings began to show.

A Tea Party crowd watches a clip from "The Fountainhead," the film adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel, on Friday. (Photo by David Weigel)

A Tea Party crowd watches a clip from "The Fountainhead," the film adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel, on Friday. (Photo by David Weigel)

The past week’s meeting of the new conservative grassroots and the jacket-and-tie organizations had its awkward moments. According to FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon, speakers at the march on Washington were not censored, and vetted only to make sure they’d stick to the message of the day. That freedom occasionally allowed the more extreme aspects of the movement break through to. Hi-Caliber, a rapper who occasionally appears on Monica Crowley’s radio show, roused the audience with a new, event-specific rap, and drew some of his loudest cheers when he indulged the conspiracy that President Obama was born outside the United States.

I don’t need another lecture from this socialist hypocrite
You say it’s your birthday
But where’s your birth certificate?

James Andura, the owner of a Chrysler Dealership in New York, told the crowd that his business had been “stolen” by the government in a speech that delved deeper and deeper into fear that Americans were losing their freedom to a fascist takeover. “If we the people don’t stop this insane march toward socialism and tyranny,” said Andura, “we might see a situation just like in many countries through history, where a set of circumstances put in a person or a regime that believes in totalitarianism.”

One day earlier, inside the “Intellectual Ammunition” session, full-time conservative and libertarian activists found themselves packaging their philosophy for people from middle America who were more likely to have been roused to action by Glenn Beck than by the Austrian economists. A steady stream of activists came into the National Press Club’s ballroom–the building’s biggest, the site of marquee speeches by celebrities, governors, and members of Congress — and grabbed free Ayn Rand Samplers, with excerpts of her novels and nonfiction, between taking photos of one another’s T-shirts and talking about how they heard about the march, how far they’d traveled to get there, and how thrilling it was to meet like-minded peope.

“We hit a 6-point buck and totaled our truck,” said Karen Bogart, an activist from Casper, Wy. who sported a “9-12 Project” hat from her association with Glenn Beck’s conservative grassroots organizations. “We put out a message to the other 9-12ers and they let us use their cars when we needed them. That’s just how 9-12ers are.”

Lin Zinser, the Ayn Rand Institute’s vice president for outreach, welcomed the event’s attendees by crediting them with the start of a Boston Tea Party-style revolution. They were, she said, “the heart, the soul, and the mind of America.”

“This president and this Congress,” said Zinser, “are ignoring the hard-working, producing, and self-sufficient Americans that you all represent.”

“You are not lying!” yelled a friendly heckler. The room broke up with laughter.

“How many of you think the president and Congress are ignoring your phone calls and e-mails?” asked Zinser.

“They are lying!” yelled another member of the crowd. Later, Zinser would spot a Glenn Beck T-shirt on one activist and thank her and the “Glenn Beckies” for building up the movement.

From there, four lecturers gave the captivated crowd lessons in the history of protest movements, in the Constitution, and in libertarian philosophy. (An audience that filled most of the room dwindled after a short lunch break, but remained above 100.) Iain Murray, a scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, gave the audience a short history of English citizen revolts like the Pilgrimage of Grace and the Glorious Revolution. He pointed to the demands of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt — “there should be no law within the realm save the law of Winchester” to argue that “the right of people to keep and bear arms was only right that people wanted in 1381.” The far-flung activists murmured in agreement; during the Q&A, one told Murray that he interpreted the Second Amendment in a way that gave Americans the right to take up arms against the government.

Fred Smith, the president of the energy and food industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, gave the audience a more pop culture and philosophy-centric presentation. He was introduced by a clip from the film “Other People’s Money” in which Danny DeVito, playing a liquidator telling stockholders to dump their failing business instead of hoping for someone to come in and save it. And he ended it by ripping off his white dress shirt to reveal a bright red “Capitalism” T-shirt designed by Bureaucrash, a libertarian protest group that began as a student organization at Hillsdale and has evolved into a new media-driven activist arm of CEI. In between, he attempted to prove to the activists that their suspicion that the environmental movement was anti-human and anti-progress was absolutely right.

“Death, poverty, and ignorance,” said Smith. “That is their mantra for the world they want to live in! And they get popular support!”

No one got a truly divided response from the crowd until Brooks, a pugnacious speaker who recited Rand’s extreme pro-capitalism dogma in a syrupy Israeli accent. He found some converts. Don Ballantine, a California activist who’d told TWI on Thursday that the Tea Party movement talked too much about issues and too little about freedom, said Brooks had hit the mark. One activist told Brooks he sounded like “the new Patrick Henry.” But before Crise’s walkout, there was some dissent.

“I need help,” asked one questioner, “in the argument of why it’s OK for CEOs to make ‘X’ amount of dollars in this crisis that just happened when they were taking peoples’ money and not paying attention.”

“Where are the perp walks?” shouted another voice in the crowd.

Brooks, undeterred, defended the right of corporate executives to make whatever they want. “Why is it any business what CEOs make?” he scolded. “You’ve got to get away from this zero-sum world of the left.”

Outside, she chatted with Mike Walsh, a software designer from New Hampshire, and Randy Alexander, a housing director at the University of Arkansas. The conversation got loud enough for an annoyed fan of Brooks to shut the press club ballroom’s door behind them.

“I thought a lot of what he said was good,” said Alexander, “but when he was done I said: There’s something about this that really bothers me. What we should be for is freedom to make up your own mind.”

“You want to be able to give through your church to your community,” said Walsh.

“His message, to me,” said Alexander, “was hollow, pointless and sad.”

“And he was on Glenn Beck,” said Crise, shaking her head. “That’s where I first saw him.”

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31 Comments

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[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ayn Rand Fan Tweets, Chris Merle, Jamil Smith, Kand others. K said: Good read! Hard-Right "Intellectual Ammunition" Finds Some Skeptics Among 9/12 Marchers http://bit.ly/9Szdb [...]


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[...] Beltway Conservatives Comb Tea Party Movement for Converts September 14, 2009 by admin Leave a reply » Demonstrators march at Saturday’s Tea Party rally. (Photo by Aaron Wiener) After four hours of listening to libertarians, Stephanie Chrise decided to get up and get argumentative. The Texas orthodontist, in town one day early for Saturday’s massive “taxpayer march on Washington,” had just heard Yaron Brooks, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, give a stemwinder of a speech based on the late objectivist philosopher and novelist’s work. Politicians from both parties, said Brooks, Original post by Beltway Conservatives Comb Tea Party Movement for Converts [...]


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DOUGLASFIELD
Comment posted September 14, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

~ U.S. RELIGIOUS LEADERS HAVE BEEN SILENCED AND THEIR FOLLOWERS HAVE BEEN….

OUR AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS SILENCE IS MUCH MORE FRIGHTENING THEN THE POSSIBLE DENIAL OF A FUTURE HEALTH ~ CARE PLAN FOR ALL OUR POORER AMERICANS ….

~ THE LOUD RANT OF SATAN WAS HEARD IN THE PEOPLES HALLS OF U.S. CONGRESS AND AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS HAVE TURNED THEIR HEADS,CLOSED THEIR EYES AND SHUT THEIR EARS IN FEAR ~

THIS OLD WORLD ORDER OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT OF OUR POORER AMERICANS NEEDS ENLIGHTENED POLITICAL MINDS AND HEARTS TO VIEW GOD DIFFERENTLY THEN $$$… NO MATTER WHAT THEIR POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATION ???

WHEN WILL OUR WEALTHY ELITE AMERICANS ABATE THEIR ASSAULT ON POORER AMERICANS WITH THEIR MONETARY CONTROL OF OUR IVORY TOWER U.S. CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER ???

THERE ARE NOT MANY MORE DISTRACTIONS LEFT WHICH ARE AVAILABLE FOR OUR WEALTHY ELITE AMERICANS TO HIDE BEHIND IN NOT TAKING PROPER CARE OF ALL OUR AMERICANS IN A HUMANE FASHION !!!

RALPH NADER ATTEMPTED TO EDUCATE AMERICAN VOTERS ABOUT U.S. CORPORATE POWER IN AMERICA AND HOW THEY CONTROL OUR CONGRESSIONAL PEOPLE THROUGH THEIR POCKET BOOK (POLITICAL DONATIONS). *WITHOUT THE DOUGH $$$ THESE U.S. CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD DO NOT GET RE~ELECTED TO CONGRESS.*TO STAY IN POLITICAL OFFICE IN AMERICA,ONE HAS TO BARTER YOUR VOTES IN CONGRESS AND REPRESENT POWER INTERESTS IN RETURN FOR THE BUCK$.

POORER AMERICANS HAVE NEVER HAD THE $$$ LOBBY TO INFLUENCE THIS CORRUPT POLITICAL CONCEPT (of horse trading political votes for political contributions) TO ACHIEVE PROPER HEALTH ~CARE OR LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR ALL OUR MIDDLE ~ CLASS AND WORKING POOR AMERICANS.

AMERICAN IVORY TOWER U.S.CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD HAVE PASSED FEDERAL LEGISLATION IN WASHINGTON DC TO SPEND 50 BILLION AMERICAN TAX $$$ ON THE INTERNATIONAL FIGHT AGAINST AIDS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS WHILE THEIR OWN AMERICAN CITIZENS ARE BEING TOLD BY THIS SAME U.S.CONGRESS THAT NATIONAL HEALTH CARE AND PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKING POOR CITIZENS IS UNAFFORDABLE.

*** WEALTHY ELITE AMERICANS (WHO ARE ONLY 1% OF OUR USA POPULATION) SADLY ALSO CONTROL HOW OUR U.S.CONGRESS SPENDS THEIR BUDGET TRILLION$ AND HAVE OBVIOUSLY FOUND MORE WORTHY INTERNATIONAL CITIZENS THEN OUR OWN DESPERATE AND NEEDY POOR TO ASSIST !!!

~Poorer Americans Nationwide only get 400 million $$$ per year for legal representation allocated them by CONGRESS~

Middle Class and Working Poor Americans are unable to afford proper legal representation in their Civil, Criminal and Family Courts of law all across America causing tremendous hardships nationwide,but these great minds and callous hearts in our American Congress have found others Worldwide more needy then their own citizens who are being falsely incarcerated,wrongfuly executed,losing their homes or apartments,losing child custody or visitation with their children etc…

Not being afforded proper legal representation by our U.S. Congress has created a total breakdown of the American judicial system for our poorer Americans because the our U.S. Courts punish all of us little people if we are not assisted with proprer legal counsel.

*It is a known fact that our average Middle Class and Working Poor Americans without proper legal representation in all of our American Courts of law lose their legal cases to the better financed who are able to afford lawyers.

Lawyers For Poor Americans is now actively in the hunt for International Countries and Leaders Worldwide to help raise 5 Billion Dollar$ for our slighted poorer Americans who have had their own American Congress turn their backs on their desperate needs in not affording them proper legal representation.

Troy Davis and Mumia Abu ~ Jamal are 2 perfect examples of American citizens who never had proper legal representation or defense investigations afforded them by our U.S. Congressional Leaders Of The Free World in their initial criminal trials in (Georgia and Pennsylvania) who might very well have to pay the ultimate price of possibly being completely innocent and falsely executed in the near future.

These two poorer Americans are among tens of thousands of legal cases nationwide that never were afforded proper legal representation or proper defense investigations at their initial trials.**We the public really have no idea if these men are innocent or guilty until they both are given fair legal representation at their new future trials.

Improper murder trials and needless deaths due to the lack of healthcare take place in Third World Countries all the time. *** Why should average Middle~Class and Working Poor Americans in the Wealthiest Country Of The World be treated as if they are living a Third World Life Style ??

This is the first of many www International pleas by Lawyers For Poor Americans for other leaders and countries to help raise the needed monie$ to correct these blatant injustices that have been inflicted on poorer Americans for the last few decades.

Lawyers For Poor Americans has many other written articles that can be viewed with any www search engine by our name or our telephone number. Lawyers For Poor Americans is a www lobby group of volunteers that sing out about the decades old neglect,abuse and injustices being inflicted on our poorer Americans that have become Crimes Against Humanity issues for the International World Court to investigate.

lawyersforpooreramericans@yahoo.com (424-247-2013)


mimsong
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 12:17 am

These people are so ready for left populism. Too bad that today's Democratic Party leaders will never offer that. We've been nervous about populism because it's always veered to the racist right in US history. Well, this looks like a reverse opportunity to me: redeem the populists from the right.


ericdondero
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 12:53 am

And yet ironically, it was Leftist Libertarians like Dave Weigel who helped Obama and the Democrats get in power, by their unrelenting bashing of Bush as a “warmonger,” and a “big government pusher,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Weigel is certainly a piece of work. He brutally attacks Republicans at Reason all through 2007/08 (Giuliani, Romney, Bush Administration, Palin, et.al.), and now he's crying about Democrats taking away our civil and economic liberties.

He deserves what he gets.


vwcat
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 2:20 am

One of the reasons I cannot abide by the conservative ideas is how it is about 2 things.
One is making sure everything is directed to the good of the rich. The idea that those who are rich are special and therefore must be coddled and have concern for. The rest are just peasants.
Two is the whole cult of 'me'. The celebration of selfishness and self-absorption. Blaming the poor, the disabled, the sick and the victim.
There is essentially a childishness in their arguments i.e.: if so and so did then why can't I? kind of thing.
But, everything boils down to the cult of me. What's in it for me, I got mine, why should I care, It's mine, what about me?
This one guy heckling a disabled woman at a townhall pretty much summed up the conservative mindset when asked about why heckling her when she was disabled and the man answered
'so now she has more rights because she's disabled then me??”


de stijl
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 6:04 am

ericdondero

Dondero!

Rhymes with Canyonero.


CT_Katie
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 6:33 am

Most people read, and enjoy, Ayn Rand in high school. Then they grow up and realize the ridiculousness of the philosophy. The only good thing that can be said about Libertarians is that they don't generally preach bigotry like other conservatives. The rest is folly.


cj10
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 7:03 am

Keep marching Tea Party People! It Looks like most of you could shed some pounds!


scrzbill
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 7:45 am

I am Satan and I approve of tea parties doing my work. I have sent my donkey glenn beck to deceive and lie to you. Continue my work by adding more bigots and racist to your groups. You are well funded by my front group Freedom Works. My stooge Dick will help you recruit from my special playground, the ignorant south.


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scrzbill
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 7:49 am

Ann Ryan? That is the basis for a political party? Unmitigated greed and avarice? Sounds very right republican. Add a little self righteous christian and Wheeeeeee. Isn't that what seven mountains represents?


Professional conservatives search tea party movement for recruits | The League of Ordinary Gentlemen
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B
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 12:23 pm

People get confused with the Libertarian Party. The Libertarian is neither left or right. Check the LP platform and you'll find they're on both sides. Basically they're much more liberal than the Democratic party socially and much more conservative than the Repubicans fiscally.

The LP is against the government deciding what is morally right or wrong for you. As long as you are not initiating violence against someone (rape, murder, etc) then you have freedom to do what you think it right socially (morals) and financially (which organization to donate money to) for yourself.


jeninoh
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

It will be interesting in 2012 when there is a rematch between Mitt Romney, who the fiscalists like, and Mike Huckabee, who the social conservatives like…. with no John McCain in between them. The GOP has long attempted to marry social and fiscal conservatives even though, while sometimes that works, they really are two competing ideologies.


ClayBarham
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

The Changing Face of Democrats describes the switch from Jefferson-Jackson views to those of Rousseau-Marx for the Democratic Party. Find it on http://www.claysamerica.com or http://www.amazon.com under Clay Barham books.


ragnarsrepos
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

I was in attendance at this meeting and in fact am the one who told Dr. Brook that “you are the son of Patrick Henry.” Is Yaron Brook Israeli, now a citizen, with an accent? Yes but 'syrupy'? Please, you reveal too much with that comment.

RE the issue of altruism. If you want to contribute to any charitable cause freely that's up to you and no one objects. What Dr. Brook told the audience is that the concept that you heard preached from pulpits and podiums for your entire life, that it's your obligation to be your brother's keeper, is what undercuts any argument against social programs such as health care. After all, how can you object if you have accepted the 'altruism as duty' argument as a moral premise? Altruism is the key to all stat-ism…call it the 'greater good', the common good or whatever 'brother's keeper' concept you choose. Until, and unless, the country rejects self-sacrifice as a moral ideal there will be no escape because there is no moral argument to stand on.


DAN
Comment posted September 16, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

Of course FREE travel and lodging would bring many people. But it wasn’t enough so the right wing zealots add another LIE on their campaign to stop Americans from getting better health care.
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/stateme…


Today’s must-read: a walk inside the D.C. tea party : The Reid Report
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Barr Henshaw
Comment posted September 22, 2009 @ 1:32 am

Ayn Rand's books and “philosophy” are empty appeals to selfishness. I know, I read The Fountain Head and Atlas Shrugged as a teenager, and they ruined me.


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