A day before the event, organizers said a mere 20,000 or so folks had registered for Saturday’s amazing 9/12 March on Washington to protest out-of-control government. What they got was hundreds of thousands of intensely patriotic people who came to the nation’s capitol to yell “Stop!”
Whatever the number of attendees, this was possibly the most significant Washington protest since the civil rights movement’s epic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Indeed, about all that was lacking was a charismatic leader like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to deliver an “I have a dream” address for the ages.
As the 1963 gathering meant America’s blacks would no longer accept second-class citizenship, Saturday’s march was the leading edge of the fabled “silent majority” that is silent no longer. That ought to give President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reason to sit down and rethink everything they think they know about the American people.
And the same applies, but even more so, for Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steel, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner.
To hasten that much-needed reappraisal by official Washington, here are some clues: Most Americans never were as gullible as you thought; they just didn’t pay you much attention. They are now, as never before. They no longer have an unbending loyalty to any person or political party in Congress or the White House. And they aren’t going to be silent any longer.
Things are different now. As Shannon Love noted on the Chicago Boyz blog: “Getting hundreds of thousands of kids, the professionally unemployed and government workers to show up isn’t that hard (especially if someone buys the bus tickets). Getting 2 million middle-class, middle-aged people with jobs, careers, children and businesses is way, way more impressive.
“We can safely assume that for every individual who made it to the protest, there are dozens of people whose grown-up obligations prevented them from attending.
“That thought should keep Obama and Pelosi up at night.”
Congratulations to the 9/12 organizers, including Fox News’ Glen Beck, FreedomWorks.org, Tea Party Patriots, Resist.net and a huge informal coalition of conservative, libertarian and populist citizen groups across the country.
Now, the crucial question is what comes next for the Middle America Rebellion of 2009. Two weeks ago in this space, I suggested the primary focus should be on replacing Congress in 2010 by electing candidates from either or any party who support a basic platform that earns them a Tea Party endorsement, or seal of approval.
While I didn’t then, and don’t now, claim to have a magic formula for making that happen, I suggested that two essential elements are a constitutional amendment for term limits and a binding pledge to balance the federal budget without tax hikes.
A regular reader of this column, who prefers to remain anonymous, has suggested a third possibility for a foundational element — a federal recall. There is no recall provision in the U.S. Constitution, but recalls are fairly common at the state level — with the most famous likely that of former California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.
Recalls are associated with initiatives and referendums — two reforms associated with the progressives of the early 20th century. More recently, there is a renewed interest on the Right in these processes, as seen in the Ballotpedia.org Web site and in the work of Paul Jacobs and the Citizens in Charge Foundation.
The Founders would reject a recall because their intent was to blunt and deflect transient majorities from being too easily able to impose their will on a vulnerable minority. With representatives facing voters every two years, a recall on them would probably be extraneous.
But the Founders never envisioned a deeply entrenched political class using its accumulated powers of incumbency to hamstring a vulnerable majority. Now, as the Middle America Rebellion of 2009 grows more self-aware and focused via the Internet, a way to recall a senator or a president might be worth a look.
Just having such a national discussion will have a salutary effect.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott’s Copy Desk blog on washingtonexaminer.com.