Thousands of people — including a handful of USC students — gathered Saturday in front of the Federal Building in Westwood, brandishing signs reading “Obamacare is a Nightmare” and “Nobama!”
An estimated 5,000 Angelenos attended the two-hour “Tea Party,” co-organized by local groups such as the Los Angeles Patriots, to rally for limited government and protest proposed health care reform.
Groups nationwide have organized similar “tea parties,” named after the original Boston Tea Party, because they feel the government has overstepped its boundaries through increased taxes and regulation.
The “Tea Party” was similar to an event held in Washington, D.C. on the same day, during which protesters marched from the White House to Capitol Hill to voice their opposition to the increase in government oversight, the New York Times reported.
Attendees at both the Washington protest and the Westwood protest voiced concerns about the recent legislation for health care reform in Washington.
Micah Zehnder, a senior majoring in philosophy, said he attended the rally with his father to see what was like. He said he felt the event could have been more constructive, because no protesters offered solutions to their complaints.
Dan Schnur, director of the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, said, “Obama’s conservative critics have decided that a ‘tea party’ is much more likely to catch the attention of the voters. [The name] evokes American history — it might interest someone who is not an ardent follower of politics.”
After bouts of chanting and rallying, the Westwood protestors were treated to a number of speeches espousing the conservative cause, including one from Thomas Del Beccaro, vice chairman of the California Republican Party.
Although the majority of protesters were older, a few USC students attended the rally to voice their concerns about health care reform, the Federal Reserve and taxation.
Schnur said the tea party, which ended at the same time Saturday’s football game began, probably wasn’t scheduled with USC students in mind.
“In the long run, the way the government spends its money is probably going to have more effect on our lives than how Ohio Sate defends Matt Barkley,” Schnur said. “But I wouldn’t want to make that case on campus on Saturday afternoon.”
USC College Republicans President Alexa Ekman said many college students don’t understand the role of government spending in their everyday lives.
“Some students think that, ‘Oh, they passed this stimulus legislation, but it doesn’t affect me,’” Ekman, a junior majoring in political science, said. “Students may not feel that an increase in taxes affects them now, but four years down the road, you will feel the effects.”
Even so, Ekman expects more students to get involved because of the present political climate.
“These students are going to be able to say, ‘I experienced this, I lived through this.’ Students are noticing this is a great time to be politically active. This is a time that’s going to go down in history, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican,” she said.
Arthur Pertzel, an undeclared freshman who did not attend the tea party, said he and other students did not go because younger people view taxes differently.
“Students don’t have to pay the same taxes as professionals,” Pertzel said. “And so a tax increase won’t grab our attention.”
Donna Bright, a member of the Pasadena Patriots said although not many college students attended the tea party, the youth movement is still important to the political process.
“They are great, they have energy, they are passionate and they are our future,” Bright said.