Tea Partiers Take D.C.

An enormous crowd of conservatives gathered Saturday in Washington, D.C., for the 9-12 Patriots’ Rally at the West Steps of the Capitol Building to protest the Obama spending spree and tell Congress, “Enough.”

The crowd — which appeared to be hundreds of thousands in number — stretched down the mall and for several blocks to the West and also to the North and South along the avenues. It took all of the protesters several hours to complete the march from 14th Street down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol Building. It was billed as the largest gathering of fiscal conservatives ever.

Out-of-control spending, bailouts, the House passing the national “cap and trade” energy tax, the government takeover of the banking and auto industries and the current proposal for government-run health care were the hot topics of the day as people from every state in the Union traveled to the nation’s capitol to attend the massive protest.

“The president has warned us if we disagree with him he’s going to call us out,” Fox News reported Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) as saying. “Well, Mr. President, we are out.”

“This is the most exciting thing that’s happened since I’ve been in Congress,” said DeMint, who spoke with HUMAN EVENTS before addressing the crowd. “You see Americans from all over the country from all ages and political parties come here to take back their government.”

I asked the senator what the people were saying to him.

“A lot of them try to encourage me, tell me not to give up,” DeMint said. “They know I’m one of a small number. They say, ‘Speak for us. Don’t back down. Keep fighting.’ They’ll hold up their children and say, ‘This is what I’m fighting for.’ I haven’t heard anything about ‘Republican’ — this is not a ‘Republican’ rally. This is a freedom rally. I think it’s going to help realign politics in America. I think you’re going to see a lot of Republican primaries, a lot of conservative Republicans running against maybe incumbents who have not been true to the message in the House and the Senate. I think you’ll see more Republicans winning in the general elections in surprise states that we don’t expect them normally to win.”

Did the Democrats and the President misread their “we won” mandate?

“They really did because we keep hearing the President won, but he didn’t run on this stuff,” DeMint said. “He didn’t run on a trillion dollar government spending stimulus. He promised no earmarks, and he’s signed thousands of them. He didn’t run on national health care. If he’d have run on the things he’s doing he wouldn’t have been elected. So this is a bait and switch if I’ve ever seen one.”

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana also spoke to HUMAN EVENTS before his speech.

“It’s overwhelming and profoundly encouraging,” Pence said. “After fighting against runaway spending here in Washington, D.C. over the last nine years, this crowd looks like the cavalry to me.”

I also asked Pence about all the shout outs he was getting from the throngs in attendance.

“We’ve had a lot of shout outs and a lot of encouraging waves,” Pence said. “It’s evidence to me that Americans are tuned into Washington, D.C. like never before. They’re aware of those of us who are fighting for limited government and they’re also aware of the runaway federal spending that has happened under Republican and Democrat administrations and I think they’ve had it.”

What does this say about 2010?

“I think that’s all up to the President and the Democrats,” Pence said. “They’re going to either get the message before the election or they’re going to get the message on Election Day. I really do believe this is not a Republican movement, this is not a Democrat movement, this is an American movement that wants to see American ideals and principles put into practice again here on Capitol Hill.”

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee was also on hand to address the huge crowd.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” Price told HUMAN EVENTS. “People as far as you can see. It’s just phenomenal. American patriots from all 50 states who’ve come to say we want our government back. These are hard-working Americans from all over, from all walks of life and it is incredibly inspiring. All they want is the government to listen, and if the government doesn’t listen, they’re going to take it back.”

And you’re here to listen?

“Amen,” Price said with a big smile.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), another conservative warrior, was very enthusiastic about the turnout and the message.

“I think the crowd has far exceeded the estimates that Capitol Hill police were prepared for today,” Blackburn said. “All the way from the White House to the Capitol, Pennsylvania Avenue is packed with people. To me, it’s exciting. It’s people showing up, defending their liberty because they care deeply about America and they are the ones making the sacrifices to be here this weekend.”

“People want to make certain that the message gets to Congress, that they are tired of the spending, they’re tired of the bureaucracy, they’re tired of Washington trying to run their lives,” Blackburn added. “I think this says that people are looking for a housecleaning in 2010 of people who got elected saying one thing and came to Washington and did another.”

I also caught up with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) in the crowd.

“This is fantastic,” Gohmert said. “This is America finally waking up and letting its voice be heard because for far too long the American people’s government has been taking power away from them. Thomas Jefferson said the natural course of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain. Government has gained so much and liberty has yielded so much that this is absolutely essential to get liberty back into the hands of the people — which is where our divine Creator meant for it to be. But like any inheritance, you don’t get to keep it unless you’re willing to fight for it.”

“This cannot stop today,” Gohmert added. “It has got to carry through the election next year or people will continue to lose their liberties.”

Best sign of the day: “Can you hear us now?”