Field Notes From the Anti-IRS Tea Party Rally

Wednesday’s “Audit the IRS” Tea Party rally had a healthy turnout despite the relatively short* notice Tea Party Patriots gave its members. For that reason the audience skewed even older than usual; there’s a built-in sampling error. Most people either don’t have the time or don’t care enough about IRS auditing policies enough to drive 17 hours overnight to hear Glenn Beck demand the institution be obliterated.

Profiles of Tea Party rallies can err on the side of patronizing, but the thing is, most Tea Party rally attendees are quite cordial—some will kindly explain to you that Obamacare will force seniors to take suicide pills. Others, like two twenty-something brothers I talked to, are genuinely disheartened that President Obama didn’t follow through on his promises and just want a stable job.

More than a few attendees had the idea to make an acrostic sign using the letters I-R-S—much like NFL fans who hold up similar signs at games for the network broadcasting a game. A selection: “Intrusive Revenue Snoopers,” “Involuntary Rights-violating Serfdom,” “Intimidating Repressive Slowdown,” and “Irresponsible Revengeful Subdoers.” You can read more about how the Tea Party is preserving the IRS scandal-mentum here. Below is a selection of attendees.

Richard Stack, 70, an attorney and children’s book author from Linthicum Heights, Maryland, was gasping for breath when I interviewed him—he’d been lugging around an enormous version of Atlas Shrugged with Obama bursting through its cover as a “bookworm” eating the pages. (The Obama-worm was also sporting an earring with a picture of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. It was an intense metaphor.) What would Ayn Rand think of the Obama administration? “She probably would have committed hari-kari. She predicted it, and it’s here.”

Terri Wical, 58, a sign designer from Lawrenceville, Georgia took a 12-hour bus ride overnight. On Obama and the Constitution: “He’s crapping on it and I don’t appreciate it.”

Robert Dann, 61, a food broker from Long Island, bussed down to D.C. Wednesday morning with 50 other New York area Tea Party members. “I’m smart enough and I have enough personal integrity to know what’s right for me.”

Fran Ginter, 58, who is looking for a job, came down from Long Island with Dann for her 14th Tea Party Rally in the past five years. “We miss Allen West.”

Robert Roche, 23, and Christopher Roche, 20, drove down from Philadelphia. Robert voted for Obama in 2008, but didn’t vote at all in 2012: “I believed in his message … I feel like he’s betrayed us.”

Gene McIlhone, 60, made this poncho on the bus trip down from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. (A fortune cookie gave him a message about Obama’s handling of the IRS scandal—read about it in Dave’s piece!)

Correction, June 19, 2013: This post originally said Tea Party Patriots gave one day notice of the rally. They announced the rally in an email on June 6.