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Tax Day 2010: Mardi Gras in Madison

Written By: Timothy Dake  |  Posted: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The Tax Day tea parties that occurred around the nation in 2009 caught many by surprise. The turnout and the number of events exceeded the expectations of the organizers although the mainstream media defiantly refused to report accurate numbers. One of the biggest surprises was the size of the Madison, Wisconsin event. No one anticipated that 8, 300 angry and frustrated Wisconsinites would show up to protest in the "Berkeley of the Midwest." Organizers had expected only 3, 000 to 4, 000 attendees. State legislators have said that they are used to protests in the Capitol and usually do not take notice o such events, but the crowd size and energy of the Tax Day protest so stunned the lawmakers that members actually feared the crowd. Some legislators reportedly urged the Capitol Police to lock the building's doors to prevent the tea bag bearing crowd from entering the building. The protesters did eventually enter the building after the speakers concluded and, in an orderly fashion, presented their tea bags to the staffers in the
representatives' and senators' offices and politely left. With the conclusion of the protest rally, all went home and the legislature went back to business as usual. The summer and fall of 2009 saw several dozen more tea parties occur throughout the state but none took place in Madison until a small event was held just prior to Thanksgiving. This does not mean that Wisconsinites were any less dissatisfied with their federal and state governments nor were they any less willing to express their dissatisfaction at Madison. Much to the contrary, the tea partiers had been very busy notifying their state and local governments of their increasing dissent.

As the fall and winter have passed, the tea party movement in Wisconsin has expanded and found a new direction. The tea party groups have found a common ground with the 912 groups, the liberty groups, the constitution groups, the specific issue groups and the taxpayer groups. They have been talking - extensively. The groups, collectively referring to themselves as "Patriot" groups, have begun to exchange best practices, collaboratively plan and carry out events, engage in government and pay very close attention to the impending elections. They are quite serious and plan to take no prisoners. The protest events, while still popular, are giving way to educational seminars and candidate debates and forums. The Patriot groups have begun hosting townhalls and informational events for the purpose of awakening their fellow citizens. To better achieve their goals, these Wisconsin Patriot groups have formed a loose coalition that comprises nearly all of the over 60 currently known Patriot groups in the state. A common battle plan for 2010 was forged and is being aggressively pursued. The action items have grown to include, in addition to the planned protests, a collaborative legislative agenda that focuses on a Tenth Amendment based state's rights program designed to wrest power from the federal government and return it to the states. Other states are following similar game plans and Wisconsin's Patriot groups are beginning to work with their counterparts in the adjoining states. National conferences of tea party organizers have added new tools to the Wisconsin groups' tool box. Membership in the groups is swelling and new groups are forming regularly. In consideration of the level of discontent generated by the passage of the healthcare bills in Congress, the Patriots have begun their own effort to resist implementation at the state level. This singular issue has become the pivotal rallying point of the Patriot groups as a new common ground with other conservative and moderate groups. The healthcare issue has probably done more to swell the ranks of the tea parties and 912 groups than all other issues combined. In contrast to 2009's long list of tea party complaints, 2010's rally goers will be more focused on the Congressional and Wisconsin legislation of the past year with a strong emphasis on healthcare and climate change. Using the healthcare issue, the groups are pushing legislation to remove the state from participation in a federal program and are promoting the protest events as a way to spread the message to the public.

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