Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Monterey, CA Tea Party Unites Antiwar, Anti-Tax Protesters

The below was written by Lawrence K. Samuels, Chair of the Monterey LP, and is reprinted with his permission:

Hundreds of Tea Parties dotted the American landscape on April 15, 2009, confusing some and delighting others.

In Monterey County, the Libertarian Party and Libertarians for Peace helped organize a mostly spontaneous anti-tax protest, drawing some 600 teabaggers. I say "spontaneous" because we couldn't get any press to promote the event beforehand. Except for KION 1460 AM radio, and libertarian Mark Carbonaro's radio announcements, the public could only have learned of the tea party through word of mouth or the internet.

Teabaggers were upset over the skyrocketing debt, uncontrolled spending, higher taxes, socialized bailouts, and bloated government. We tried to maintain that theme, though some people had signs protesting Obama's administration.

Most attacks on Obama are misdirected. By criticizing Obama, rather than overall government coercion, teabaggers appear sympathetic to Republicans. We must dispel this mostly media-driven criticism of Tea Parties. One way is to set up tables, as did various Monterey libertarian groups, and distribute hundreds of libertarian buttons and flyers. We also brought pre-made signs, and a sign-making table with poster board and markers.

A few counter-protesters attended on the other side of the street. Ironically, they came because the local Peace Calendar had sent notices to protest the event -- yet Libertarians for Peace is a member of the Peace Coalition that runs the Peace Calendar.

Their website's anti-Tea Party notice was taken down soon after we complained.

We knew some of the counter-demonstrators from past antiwar demonstrations. We crossed the street and distributed antiwar literature to them, stressing that antiwar and anti-tax people are natural allies. Some of them lightened up, and accepted our invitation to our side of the street. After all, we were embracing our principles with "End the War, Cut Taxes" signs.

Counter-protesters did not have a single antiwar sign, only placards that said they were "proud tax-paying Americans," and Obama banners. One sign appeared to be pro-war, proclaiming: "Support the Troops: Pay Your Taxes."

Now that Obama is escalating troop strength in Afghanistan and asking for another $83 billion for both war zones, it seems that Democratic sympathizers in the various Peace Coalitions are less inclined to criticize the war. Seems it's okay for Democratic politicians to engage in war, but not for Republicans.

We soon hope to highlight this contradiction with a speech by co-founder and long-time libertarian, Eric Garris. The planned speech is entitled: "Is the new boss the same as the old boss?"

Libertarians must be in the forefront of this pro-taxpayer, pro-freedom protest movement. We must denounce both the past abuses of the recent Republican administration, and the new abuses of the current Democratic administration.

Teabaggers are talking about forming a Freedom Coalition, comprising dozens of local organizations, similar to the county-based Peace Coalitions that sprung up during the Iraq War.

As with the antiwar movement, the freedom movement will have a long and rocky road to travel. It makes for a better journey if we have a roadmap.

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