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Political junkies now have their own summer sequel to ponder: Tea Parties 2, Independence Day.
Local conservative and libertarian political activists, who threw ''tea party'' protests on April 15, will rally again Friday in Easton as part of hundreds of demonstrations across the nation this weekend.
While their numbers are smaller this time around, their target is again big government, in particular President Barack Obama's cap and trade energy proposal and plan to overhaul health care.
Kim Schmidtner, one of the group's leading local organizers, said she thinks more people are beginning to embrace the concerns her group raised more than two months ago.
''A lot of the language in Washington and some of the polls are showing more and more Americans are becoming concerned about the spending and the deficit,'' said Schmidtner, of Lower Saucon Township.
The goal of Friday's protest -- to be held 7 p.m. in Easton's Centre Square -- is to remind politicians of that, she said.
How much political weight do the tea party activists wield? That remains to be seen, said political experts.
They evoke supporters of past third-party candidates such as John Anderson and H. Ross Perot, said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College.
''It's kind of an outlet for people who in the past might have congealed around a third party, and it's not there,'' Madonna said. ''There is no Ross Perot on the scene. You get the sense that its roots kind of lie in the Perot discontent.''
While Perot ultimately failed, his focus on federal deficits forced Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican President George H.W. Bush to address the issue in the 1992 campaign, he said.
As it looks to revive the party after a rough 2008, the GOP should heed the tea party protestors, said Harrisburg Republican consultant Charlie Gerow.
''I think these tea parties are a significant political movement, and anybody who fails to pay attention to them does so at their own political risk,'' Gerow said.
Less sophisticated than Obama's Organizing for America volunteer group, the networks the tea party protestors are building could be help the party in 2010 and 2012 elections, he said.
''It's a movement that percolates underneath the radar screen,'' Gerow said.
Nationally, the organizations promoting the events are a hodgepodge, ranging from Freedom Works, an advocacy group headed by former GOP House Majority Whip Dick Armey, to the Christian conservative American Family Association.
Local activists affiliate with a variety of efforts, from radio talker Glenn Beck's ''9/12 Project'' to local taxpayers associations.
Lehigh County Democratic Party Chairman Rich Daugherty said he appreciates the tea party protesters' right to express their opinions and their focus on containing costs.
But he said some government programs are helpful. Some provide important protection to the environment, or regulate financial markets. Medicare, for example, makes it possible for senior citizens to afford medical care, he said.
''I think [the tea party protesters] tilt it in the other direction so far that it doesn't make sense any more,'' Daugherty said. ''In terms of socialism, I don't see Obama doing anything in that realm.''
Schmidtner said she has an e-mail list of about 900 people and growing, and expects about 100 people at the Friday rally in Easton. The group has set up a page on the Meetup Web site and has a Facebook page with 44 members.
Members are involved in a variety of efforts, including researching politicians' records.That doesn't mean the group will be recommending its members get behind a particular politician.
''I don't know if support is the right word, but we are trying to find them and give them an individual rating,'' Schmidtner said. ''…one thing we are encouraging our members to do, if they feel so compelled to step up, is to run for office.''