Denver ‘Tea Party’ trades up conservative icons, faux populist ire

What a difference a few weeks of growing partisan anger and millions of dollars in free publicity can make.

At the second of Denver’s “Tea Party” protests in just six weeks the contrasts couldn’t be more sharp between the crowds, the messages (or lack thereof) and the apotheosis of conservative inspiration — the brainy Ayn Rand is out and the telegenic Ronald Reagan is in.

The April 15 'Tea Party' protest crowd from the West Steps of the Capitol. (Photo/Wendy Norris)

The April 15 'Tea Party' protest crowd from the West Steps of the Capitol. (Photo/Wendy Norris)

An estimated 3,500 people descended on the West Steps of the state capitol today to alternately shout about taxes, socialism, the Second Amendment, the economic stimulus and generally unfocused anti-Obama grumbling.

Two-time “Tea Party” protest organizer Brian T. Campbell, Sr., once again served as emcee but demurred on this go-around to use the event to promote and gather mailing list fodder for his publicly declared but as of yet not officially registered federal candidacy for the 2010 Republican primary in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.

The Feb. 27 stimulus ruckus, that was held on the polar opposite East Steps side of the statehouse, galvanized about 100 people to take to the land, open neighborhood black markets and other small-scale anti-government activities inspired by John Galt, the fictional character of Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.”

An April 15 'Tea Party' protester in Denver. (Photo/Wendy Norris)

An April 15 'Tea Party' protester in Denver. (Photo/Wendy Norris)

This time around only wild cheers were voiced by the decidedly establishment GOP throng for former President Ronald Reagan whose name was invoked frequently by many of the long-time state politicians and conservative activists from the crowded podium.

Punctuated by shouts of U-S-A and unfurled “Don’t Tread on Me” banners — and a lone pirate flag — the red-meat vibe of the group mirrored any of the typical election-cycle political rallies organized by corporate-backed groups pushing a candidate or cause.

Yet for all the hoopla and heavy television and radio promotion, there was no call to action nor a clear take-home message for participants who stood in the Noon-day sun for more than 90 minutes, unlike the first and more home-grown “Tea Party” event.

Notwithstanding the obvious ideologically-driven anger from the large crowd, scattershot political ire does not a movement make.

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Wendy Norris

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