Despite FOX News' promotion, RNC support, GOP co-opting, and funding from corporate lobbyists, not many Tea Partiers showed up at today's anti-health-care-reform rally in Washington, DC. What FOX Nation billed as the "Surge Against Obama" ended up looking more like a trickle with somewhere between 300 and 1,000 people in attendance. This is certainly a big change from the numbers seen at some of the Tea Party events last year, such as the nation-wide Tax Day protests.
Thanks in part to the backing of corporate lobbying groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, and people like health industry multimillionaire Rick Scott, the Tea Party movement was able to muster raucous crowds at Health Care Town Hall meetings across the country last summer. Then on September 12, 2009 somewhere between 60,000 and 1.5 million Tea Partiers marched on the nation's Capitol. (As you can see, estimates for the march's attendance varied widely.)
Next came the announcement that there would be a Tea Party convention in February 2010. As planning for the event continued and details released, media attention grew. By the time Sarah Palin was officially announced as keynote speaker, expectations were sky-high.
However, only about 600 people went to Nashville to participate in the National Tea Party Convention. Some reports claimed that media representatives outnumbered attendees.
And now we have the poor turnout at today's event, which must surely be disappointing to organizers.
Diminishing returns have also been reflected in other recent Tea Party efforts:
On Friday, [the] Tea Party organized a "Take the Town Halls to Washington" effort, with the intention of meeting 50 key House Democrats. They fell 49 short. November's "house call" event was a bit of a flop. December's event on the Hill was even worse.
What do you think is happening? Is the party over?