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A Smaller 9/12 Tea Party March

It wasn’t nearly as big or nearly as angry, but tea party activists flooded Washington yesterday to march on the same ground they had last year and prove the continued commitment and viability of their movement:

The predominant feeling among tea partiers at the 2009 rally was anger – a sense that Washington was ignoring their calls for less government as it plunged the country inexorably toward socialism. That was replaced – or at least supplemented – Sunday with a triumphal confidence that the country can be “taken back” and a notable aura of inevitability that Republicans will win the House.

“November 2 will be a storm in Washington,” said Ginni Thomas, the founder of LibertyCentral.org and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. “Our opposition is trying to insult you, trying to intimidate you, trying to infiltrate you. But it’s not working. The second Reagan revolution is growing.” [...]

“We would crawl through broken glass to vote,” said Donna Lovelace, a 62-year-old English teacher from Garland, Texas. “We would stand in the pouring rain on a Sunday morning to make our point. We would do anything. We would contribute money we hardly have.”

Despite such enthusiastic outpourings from activists, Politico also noted that many were defensive that weaker turnout would be interpreted as pundits as a sign that the tea party movement was losing steam. One possible reason for the lower turnout (and source of anger for some activists) was Glenn Beck’s decision to host his own, nonpolitical rally two weeks ago in the capital, dividing the time, energy, and resources of some activists who couldn’t afford to attend both.

Beck, who put on another another faith-themed event Saturday night with Sarah Palin in Anchorage, has an important yet nebulous relationship with the tea party movement. Many adore his television show on Fox News and credit him for their discovery of political activism, yet others have chaffed under his insistence on melding his political persona with his religious leanings:

“There has been a battle since the beginning of the tea party movement about whether there should be a spiritual component – and by that they mean Christian – but we need as broad a remit as possible because there are a lot of people in this country who don’t want religion in their politics,” said Andrew Ian Dodge, the Maine state coordinator for Tea Party Patriots.

Dodge, who attended Sunday’s rally, said Beck, in particular “doesn’t get the whole tea party movement” and also “wants to suck the air out of the room because he knew that our events were on 9/12, which is really frustrating.”

Light rain on Sunday morning might also have dampened turnout at the event.

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