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Citizen Activism in Fantasyland

FiveThirtyEight has compiled a list of crowd sizes from all the tea party events, based on nonpartisan sources. They put the crowd size in Sacramento California at 3,500 — compare this to Fox News’ (knowingly fabricated) estimate of 10,000 to 15,000 people. Total turnout across the nation is estimated to have been 311,460 people in 346 cities, with the largest single gathering being Atlanta with 15,000 people (where Sean Hannity appeared).

This is a respectable turnout for a protest, but let’s not get carried away. Nevertheless, the Conservative site Powerblog quickly crowed:

This is what a real grass-roots uprising looks like. Whether it develops into a movement remains to be seen, but it’s easy to understand why the Left is so agitated about the tea parties and so anxious to discredit them. This is the sort of citizen activism the Left would like to inspire, but hasn’t for a very long time.

I’m not sure what reality these guys live in. How about the 1,500,000 people who protested immigration legislation in 2006, including 500,000 in Los Angeles alone. Or the 100,000 who marched on the Pentagon to protest the war in Iraq, or an equal number protesting Iraq in New York City. One could argue that the Obama campaign rallies were not exactly grass-roots events, but even Fox News sending their top stars to tea party events couldn’t draw one tenth the crowds.