It’s Tea Time in Richmond

Virginia’s Tea Party movement has grown with a vengeance to become what some observers say is the best organized such movement in the country.
Its success, and strident resentment of current politics, will be in evidence Friday and Saturday when the movement convenes at Richmond’s Convention Center for a big conference.
Drawing on anti-Obama sentiment, concern about deficit spending and frustration with the anemic economic recovery, the movement in Virginia has grown to about 30 informal chapters and 8,000 participants. “We’re incredibly successful,” Jamie Radtke, a tax consultant and stay-at-home mom who heads the Richmond Tea Party and the umbrella Federation of Virginia Tea Parties, told me.
These are heady times for Radtke, whose story is told on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 6. The Virginia Tea Party types have played a big role in turning around sentiment in the Old Dominion, which voted for Barack Obama in 2008.
Radtke and her confederates insist that they are not particularly anti-Obama and that they are equally critical of George W. Bush’s bank bailout, House Minority Whip and Henrico Congressman Eric Cantor’s spending, and Republican members of the Virginia General Assembly who Radtke says have doubled the state’s budget.
But as well-organized as the Virginia movement seems to be, there are still loose ends. To be sure, there’s a racial element, since the parties sprang up after Obama, the first African American president, took office. Tea Party organizers in Virginia go to great lengths to show that they are diversity-conscious and often draw attention to members who are black.
Another problem stretches farther down the ranks. I attended a tea party meeting at a middle school in New Kent County last week. The participants were drawn from a piney woods area of about 13,000, mostly white people, many of whom are retired, about 35 miles east of Richmond.
About 150 attending saw a slide show with the usual patriotic themes that got tougher with each click. Bush’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, used to bail out such giant financial entities as AIG, was billed as a “liberal” program and tied to Obama. The speaker was a minister and retired Harvard Law grad who along with an assistant were the only African Americans in the room.
And when the Tea Parties converge in downtown Richmond, they will be living large thanks to the largess of taxpayers. Although the movement is vigorously anti-tax and anti-government, the convention center where their event will be held was built with $170 million raised through a tax increase on regional hotels, according to one astute local observer. A hotel across the street where many will stay was built with $44.8 million in historic site tax credits. A new performing arts center built nearby to revitalize the downtown area’s forlorn Broad Street was built with $61.3 million in taxpayer money.
These contradictions don’t seem to bother the exuberant Tea Partiers. After all, they have the state’s Republicans, including Cantor and Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, dancing to their tune. According to the Journal, the movement helped push right-wing Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli to sue to block Obamacare’s requirement that U.S. citizens buy health insurance. And they are well organized.
Peter Galuszka
(first posted on The Washington and published in the newspaper’s Oct. 7 op-ed page.

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13 responses to “It’s Tea Time in Richmond”

  1. Groveton Avatar

    I think the Tea Party people are sincerely anti-government. I think they are sincerely anti-Democrat and anti-Republican. I don't think it has anything to do with Obama being African American. If Hillary were president – they'd be there too. If Dennis Kucinich were president – they would be out there. If John McCain were president – they would be out there too.

    There is a certain hopelessness and helplessness in America today. People are both frightened and angry. It is a combustible mix.

    This November looks like it will be an historic election. We've been down this road before. A discredited Bush gave way to a big time liberal. The liberal spent his first two years trying to re-engineer America into his liberal mold. There was a recession. People were frightened, people were angry. There was an historic election where the Republicans drubbed the Democrats.

    Then what happened?

    The liberal became less liberal.

    The conservatives became less conservative.

    America prospered.

    I've been asking the same question for over a year ….

    Is Obama another Clinton or is he another Carter?

    for the good of America, let's hope he's more like Clinton.

  2. suzlaw1 Avatar

    I can't believe The Post actually published this nonsense – and that's not setting the bar very high. "To be sure, there's a racial element, since the parties sprang up after Obama, the first African American president, took office." Really? You note in the prevous paragraph that Virginia voted for Obama in 2008. So these people sudenly became racist after electing Obama? Could it just possibly be that these people don't like his policies and his skin tone has nothing to do with it? Then you proceed to note the "contradictions" of tea party activists holding their meeting at a convention center and hotel built with money raised through tax increases and tax credits. Where is the inconsistency? Should people boycott these places as a result? Are they not paying for the use of the convention center and to stay at the hotel?

  3. Larry G Avatar

    anyone have any thoughts on this:

    " New poll finds large overlap in Religious Right, Tea Party"

    " The third biennial American Values Survey, released by the Public Religion Research Institute, shows that 47 percent of respondents who identify themselves with the Tea Party say they are also part of the Religious Right or conservative Christian movement. Narrowed down to the 81 percent of Tea Party followers who consider themselves Christian, the number is higher — 57 percent of Christian Tea Partiers consider themselves part of the Religious Right.

    Robert Jones
    However, the Tea Party movement makes up a much smaller percentage of the population at 11 percent than previous conservative movements, such as the 22 percent of the overall public who identify with the Religious Right.

    The poll also found that the Tea Partiers are mostly social conservatives rather than true libertarians. Sixty-three percent said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and only 18 percent support same-sex marriage versus 37 percent of all Americans.

    And 76 percent of Tea Party-identified voters said they either identify with or lean towards the Republican Party. A full 83 percent said they were planning to vote for, or leaning toward, the Republican candidate in their congressional district in this year’s midterm elections.

    However, other common media characterizations of the Tea Party movement were borne out by the statistics. For example, the group is significantly whiter than the general population — with 80 percent of Tea Partiers being non-Hispanic whites versus 69 percent of the overall population. They also are significantly more concerned about the size of government than the general public, with 83 percent of Tea Party-identified respondents saying that government has grown because it has taken over responsibilities that should be left up to individuals. Only 56 percent of the general population agreed with that sentiment."

  4. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Larry, there probably is a lot of overlap between the Tea Party and the religious right. But the Tea Party movement is much broader. It includes people of a libertarian stripe. Most important, the primary impetus of the Tea Party is concern over deficits, the national debt and the intrusion of the government into all aspects of the economy — and that's what makes the movement so much broader than the religious right.

    The Virginia Tea Party convention will issue a statement of legislative priorities today. I would be very much surprised to see it address traditional concerns of the religious right, such as abortion. If it does, then as a non-member of the religious right, I will not be able to endorse or support it.

  5. Larry G Avatar

    how about gay & lesbian agnostics?

    do you think they are represented?

    or do you think that it's impossible for gay & lesbian agnostics to be fiscal conservatives concerned about too much "government", equal rights, family values and all that ROT?

    UVA Scientists?

    do you think any of the above can be family-value, fiscal conservatives – who are well represented in the Tea Party and demonstrate a diversity tour-de-force?

  6. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    Thanks for your appraisal of my nonsense.

    Race is a big question for the Tea Party people and they are quite aware of it. Their leaders try to make certain they are inclusive, but the simple fact remains that a majority of people of color stay away.
    It is curious that such a vibrant group against government spending did not materialize during the Bush era during which the Clinton budget surplus quickly evaporated because we went to war in Iraq over Weapons of Mass Destruction that did not exist, gave tax breaks to the rich, deployed Plan D, etc..
    Noting just how much downtown Richmond hospitality industry is dependant upon taxes and public money is fair game. The convention center and so on were built this way because there just wasn't magic to the downtown market.

    Peter Galuszka

  7. Larry G Avatar

    It's one thing for any organization to have to repeatedly defend itself on racism issues.

    It's quite another for the organization to easily demonstrate that such accusations are obvious to all that they are patently ridiculous.

    My view of the Tea Party is that they are treading the border on this…. and they know it.

    It's one thing to have isolated whackos in your midst – even the Libs are familiar with that kind of embarrassment but it's quite another to easily demonstrate – diversity – by obvious characteristic observable by all –

    AND – ACKNOWLEDGE by the groups who are said to be well represented.

    Now.. if someone would suggest that the Tea Party should institute a Diversity Program – I'd love to see the ensuing PC fireworks.

  8. It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.

    I understand the Tea Party is going to run Lewis Carroll for President.

  9. Groveton Avatar

    Well … we'll soon see. The Democrats last chance at even a respectable showing this election fizzled with today's jobs report.

    The Republicans will win and win big. We'll see if the Tea Party is still vocal after the election. Because I don't see a small federal government in the future – even with a batch of new Congressmen and Congresswomen.

  10. "Well … we'll soon see. The Democrats last chance at even a respectable showing this election fizzled with today's jobs report."

    Your probably right…..but nothing the R's do is really going to matter.

    The economy needs to add something like 130,000/month FOR THREE YEARS STRAIGHT to get back to the previous peak employment figure.

    Where are these jobs gong to come from?


  11. "….to get back to the previous peak employment figure…."


    But the previous peak employment figure was based largely on the housing bubble. I don't think we WANT to get back to that.

    I don;t think 6 or 7% unemployment is all that bad, I could sign up for that, except it is really 6% of workers 100% unemployed, which is an entirely different thing.

    Groveton seems to be exhibiting a fairly common attribute, denying whatever evidence of recovery there is in order to watch Obama fail……….


    The BLS reported today that job openings increased to 3.2 million at the end of August, which was 60,000 higher than job openings at the end of July, and 790,000 higher than at the end of August last year (or 33%).  Job openings for the private sector are 36% ahead of last year, or by 751,000 openings.  

    "The U.S. Monster Employment Index recorded its eighth consecutive month of positive year-over-year growth during September with a growth rate of 16 percent (see top chart above). This is an accelerated rate from the 12 percent in the previous month, but less than the peak of 21 percent seen during June and July.

    15 States Report Sept. Sales Tax Increases vs. 2009

    From the American Staffing Association (ASA):

    "During the week of Sept. 20–26, 2010, temporary and contract employment rose 1.36%, pushing the index up two points to a value of 100. The last time the weekly index hit 100 was during the week of May 12, 2008 (see chart above).  At a current index value of 100, U.S. staffing employment is 45% higher than the level reported for the first week of the current year and is 25% higher than the same weekly period in 2009.


    All from Carpe Diem.


    I see signs of distress, empty storefronts, etc. but I see more stuff picking up than closing up.

    Suppose the Republicans do win big. Then what? They will then be faced with cleaning up the rest of the mess (they helped create). If they win on the strenght of characterizing this as a slwo recovery, what will be their criteria for success?

    Another bubble based on fraud?

    Slow steady recovery a half percent better than Obama?

    What if they discover we have long term systemic problems and they cannot do any better? Will they then direct the same angst against their own leaders?

    In my busines you have to set the pass/fail criteria, and make sure you have an adequate way to measure, BEFORE you have the test (election).

    I don't see anybody doing that. All I see is "Put me in power, you will love it. I promise."

    I don't think the problem is work. I know I have more work than I will ever live to finish. I think the problem is money, because if I had eneough of that, I could hire the work out.

    Like my illiterate frind Jesus said, "What good all that money, it no go round and round?" By all means, lets cut taxes so people can hoard it, that'll fix things.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Let's not forget that you can have job growth, expand the economy, and not change unemployment.

    Frankly, I think it is kind of a sick outlook that argues our economy and society is failing unless we can make everybody work.

    With the right attitude and the right plan, we ought to be able to get to the point where only 15 t0 20% have to work and we consider it a privilege to rotate in for our 20%.

    That is almost how the Army works, isn't it?

  13. Larry G Avatar

    Yes.. Groveton seems to think that is the Dems lose that it's good news for the country and the economy…

    ha ha ha ha ha

    silly man…

    He must think the Republicans of today are not the same yahoos that drove the eoconomy into the ditch to start with.

    I asked Groveton – no answer –

    to name ONE THING the Republicans did in their 8 years to detect the coming meltdown and to take action to head it off…


    what did those yahoos do?

    well.. they blamed Bush.. didn't they?

    they didn't like the TARP and they didn't like the Stimulus

    and the truth is – they didn't like anything so they sat on their hands

    and these are the guys that Groveton is cheering back into power…

    Groveton – I thought you were an intelligent guy…..


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