To say the Tea Party faithful were not feeling the love Thursday in Philadelphia's Love Park would be an understatement. The park features Robert Indiana's famous sculpture that spells out "L-O-V-E" in bold red letters.
Across the street is Philadelphia's City Hall, topped with the statue of William Penn that has looked down on the City of Brotherly Love for generations. Independence Hall, where the founding fathers crafted our system of government that has never been equaled, is nearby.
It was quite a locale for citizens to vent their frustrations about the federal government, and vent they did.
"People are pissed off," says Brian Naughton, 40, a burly Philadelphia firefighter who taking a leave of absence to run for the U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania. "Things are completely out of control."
"Living in Desperate Times"
For Naughton, a self-described "blue collar guy," and other attendees at the rally, the U.S. is living in desperate times. President Obama's health care reform will expand government exponentially, causing deficits to mushroom and imperiling the liberties of those who subscribe to Thomas Paine's notion that "government is best that governs least."
Some, like Dave Assanowicz, a 32-year-old restaurant worker from Bensalem, Pa., added some sartorial flare to make their point. Assanowicz was decked out from head to toe in colonial garb, from a tri-corner hat to shoes that were probably fashionable in Ben Franklin's day,
"I had the outfit," he says, adding that his parents were both activists and that his father was sent to prison for tangling with the IRS. "You look for any excuse to wear it."
Don't Tread on Me
And the occasion was certainly appropriate. Several people carried Revolutionary War-era "Don't Tread on Me" flags. Many carried signs with anti-Obama messages on both sides such as "Nobamacare -- No to Socialism." One warned Obama of a possible divine "curse" for his policy toward Israel, which has resulted in the chilliest relations between the countries in decades.
The holder of the sign, Philadelphia attorney Howard Hyman, insisted he meant Obama no physical harm. "God is going to do what he is going to do," he says.
The highlight of the event held by the Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots was Jesse Civello. With a red bow tie and matching suspenders, Civello looked like he was running for office. His impassioned oratory style including a dramatic recitation of the preamble to the Constitution and warnings about the evils of socialism sure sounded political. The only thing stopping him from running for office was his age -- 17.
Too Young to Vote
After his speech, Civello told me that that he was the youngest of five children and the only one interested in politics. He seemed like a normal teen, though he says there is a picture of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on his desk in his room. Civello met McCain several months ago. He is bummed that he was too young to vote for him in 2008. Then again, he is too young to vote in this November's election as well.
In an interview, Assanowicz said he was worried that the Tea Party might be a "fad." But given the enthusiasm shown by the throngs of people who protested in Washington today and young followers like Civello, he need not worry.
Mainstream politicians, however, will have plenty to fret about for some time.
Tea Party Faithful Weren't Feeling the Love in Philadelphia