AUSTIN - Inspired by a rant from financial pundit Rick Santelli, a movement sprang up to hold tea parties around the nation to object excessive spending and taxation. Santelli has since been left far behind and many others have climbed on the bandwagon, but the tea party movement carried on and today it exploded in tea parties in cities and small towns around the nation, protesting bailouts, stimulus spending and the growing deficit.
In Austin 1500 people attended a noon rally to hear speeches from local activists and politicians, including anti-tax advocate Michael Quinn Sullivan, Mike Voorhees from the Travis County chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus, Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams and Texas Governor Rick Perry. The crowd was young and enthusiastic and diverse, with Republicans and libertarians and independents all there to express their opposition to bailouts and stimulus spending and their desire for governmental reform. A second, larger rally was scheduled for after work with a reported turnout of over 5000.
Many different groups were represented, including Ron Paul's non-partisan Campaign for Liberty, the Texas Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, anti-toll-road activists and local issue groups whose interests cross party lines. Major sponsoring groups included FreedomWorks and non-partisan conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. Despite concerns that activists from groups like MoveOn.org and ACORN would attempt to disrupt the event, they were nowhere to be seen and the mood was one of unity and calm determination.