But earlier in the day, several thousand people gathered on Freedom Plaza along Pennsylvania Avenue, positioned part-way between the White House and the Capitol, for a celebration of free speech and protest. The mood was almost joyful on this sunny, summery day, as participants debated and discussed the issues of the day with each other, the media, and left-wing counter-demonstrators.
“Reelected? You must be smoking Reid,” said another, referring to the Democratic Senate leader, who faces a tough reelection battle.
One sign advertised www.GOOOH.com, pronounced “Go,” for Get Out of Our House. “It is time to clean out Congress!” it announced.
“Stop the spending” signs were common. So were the mass-produced yellow “Don’t Tread on Me Flags” with the coiled snake, a symbol of American independence.
John Wagner, an environmental engineer from suburban Detroit, came out with his wife to “send a message to Congress,” he said. He’s also here for the “group encouragement” with other tea partyers and to encourage like-minded people to run for Congress.
Mr. Wagner is unwilling to use the correct name for his member of Congress – Rep. John Dingell (D), the longest-serving member, at 27 terms – and blasts him for, in his view, voting against the wishes of his constituents on health-care reform.
“Members of the House do not have the right, under the Constitution, to vote on their own views or on their party’s views,” he says. “That’s tyranny. That’s what our ancestors fled.”