Some observations, in no particular order.....
- It's hard to tell, and I'm certainly no expert, but I'm guessing there were a couple of thousand people in attendance.
- The media were there too. Channel 3 and Channel 12 had TV trucks there, and I have to imagine the print media was there too, but I'll be damned if I can find a mention of it at azcentral.com.
[Edit: At one point, I had an embeded video here from one of the local news outfits. I have removed it though, because it was one of those videos that starts on its own, and every time you opened this webpage, the damned thing would play. I've decided I hate that.]
- Some thoughts on crowd composition...... It was almost exclusively, at least to my eyes, white. This will lead the real racists of the world to again shout "Racism!", but it is really more of a racial, rather than racism point.
A white crowd is both good and bad. But first, a caveat: This is the East Valley we're talking about here. The Phoenix metro area has a black population, but compared to other areas, it is relatively small. We do have a hispanic population, but neither were represented at the rally. On the all-white crowd I saw, the good: That mainstream middle-class Americans--the Silent Majority--are inspired to take to the streets is an expression of the frustration this otherwise sedentary group. The bad: Having a broader appeal is necessary. That the liberals and the Democrats have succeeded in dishing deals to their constituent groups is a problem this movement needs to address.
The crowd was also largely composed of middle-aged (and older) folks. This too has a good and bad view. Older folks are more reliable voters, and the politicians know this. But it would be better to have a coalition (Hey! A Lefty word!) across the age groups.
I wasn't thrilled with some of the groups that were there. The NRA had a table there, which I obviously don't mind, and there were a scattering of "Sign My Petition" tables and folks selling t-shirts, etc. But there was also a group there who are pissed off about the speed cameras (which, as I understand it, issues fines but not points), and the John Birch Society. When a fringe movement has its own fringe elements, it is easy to paint the whole thing as nutty.
- Taxes are a high interest item. Given that this was Gilbert, there was more than a little discussion of a Gilbert (sales?) tax under consideration. The politicians had better know that more taxes are going to be a difficult sell. There were many signs opposed to Cap and Trade.
- The message the Republican party ought to be listening to is this: The conservative segment is done watching you compromise with the liberals. The support we gave to the big government "compassionate conservatives" is over. Sen. McCain was boo-ed (no surprise there), and Rep. Flake--who is otherwise a very fiscally prudent representative--was damaged by missing the vote on Cap and Trade. By design, no elected representatives, at any level, were invited to speak.
- Lots of folks made homemade signs--there was even a table set up for you to do it there. My favorite: "Chains You Can Believe In" (I don't mean to imply this was taken at the Gilbert rally....I got if off the web.)