RUTLAND - With nearly 46 percent of Americans voting for moderate Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, there was bound to be a vocal faction of disgruntled voters following the election of Barack Obama - just as there were disgruntled voters after the first election of George W. Bush in 2000. And, according to news accounts, even some pro-Obama voters are expressing doubts about the government's course of action in attempting to reverse the economic downturn.
So, it didn't take long for unhappy 2008 voters to declare the Obama honeymoon null and void - and some have begun an organized protest against what they see as an expanding, "socialistic" government that is raising middle-class taxes to unprecedented levels, "seizing" control of segments of the private sector, bailing out "deadbeat" mortgage holders and propping-up mismanaged businesses.
Taking an eerie nod from the fictional T.V. commentator character Howard Beal, played by the late actor Peter Finch in the classic 1976 Academy Award-winning Paddy Chayefsky film "Network", thousands of voters and taxpayers nationwide are "mad as hell"- and they're not going to take it any more.
Since February the tea party movement, started by real-life T.V. commentator Rick Santelli of the CNBC Business network, has taken off. Santelli-inspired protests have occurred in more than a dozen large cities across the nation.
Santelli criticized the government's effort to refinance mortgages as "promoting bad behavior;" he called for a Chicago Tea Party during a Feb. 23 broadcast. Santelli's tea party idea makes a direct link to the revolutionary Boston Tea Party of 1773.
The tea parties of February and March haven't received much attention in the news media. Despite the cold shoulder by most mainstream reporters, the conservative anti-tax, anti-big government spending movement appears to be picking up momentum, even in liberal Vermont.
Enter Jon Wallace of West Rutland and the Vermont Tea Party.
Wallace, a local landlord and activist, is a member of the new Vermont Tea Party. He is organizing the Rutland Tax Day Tea Party protest to be held in Main Street Park (Route 7), Wednesday, April 15, 4-8 p.m. The public is invited to express their public opposition to the Obama administration and Congress.
Several guest speakers will be present and protesters will get a chance to rant during an "open mic" session.
"A revolution is brewing. Our legislators aren't listening to the people," Wallace said. "The nation is making a turn to socialism with government reaching ever deeper into our pockets. We oppose it and we're protesting it."
Wallace said he was inspired to be a part of the tea party movement after hearing about the large numbers of protesters attending a February tea party in Denver, Colo.
"Along with Rutland and Montpelier, there will be over 300 communities nationwide holding Tax Day Tea Party protests," Wallace noted. "The Montpelier, Vt., Tea Party will be held at the same time as our Rutland rally."
Rally attendees are asked to bring along canned goods and other non-perishable food items to the event April 15. The Rutland County We the People food drive, coordinated by Rev. Bill Kingsley of the Brick Church in Clarendon, will help needy local residents.
"We need to reawaken the idea that the people can help themselves, help their neighbors in need," Wallace said. "Faith-based groups are feeding and helping people every day. They are helping people to get on their feet by not making them dependents of the state."
Wallace doesn't expect much coverage by the local news media April 15. He said most tea party protesters see the local and national news media as being fiercely devoted to the new president and Democrat-controlled Congress.
According to several tea party Web sites, protesters around the nation are planning to mail-in envelopes filled with modern, individual tea bags to the White House and select members of Congress - just in time for the nation's April 15 tax filings. The protest tea-bag mailings will likely bog down USPS service in Washington, D.C., as government officials screen hundreds of envelopes bearing anonymous tea bags of protest.