Photo essay for The New York Times
With the 2010 midterm elections only a few weeks away, the Tea Party Express bus tour kicked off their fourth cross-country tour, dubbed "Liberty at the Ballot Box," in Reno, Nevada. The Tea Party Express is part of the Our Country Deserves Better political action committee, which has poured money into the campaigns of many Tea Party candidates across the country, including Joe Miller, Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell.
At each stop along the way, the entertainers, political bloggers and chairmen of the tour preached smaller government, lower taxes, a repeal of the new health care law, and a return to the principles of the Constitution. The rallies were meant to energize the nascent conservative movement and urge them to vote and to "take their country back." The tour was preaching to the choir of those who attended, mostly homogenous crowds of middle age and elderly white people who often brought their children to hear the message.
The crowds were peaceful and polite, with most of them standing and agreeing quietly as they took in the message. "Don't Tread on Me" flags and anti-Obama signs were prevalent at each rally, along with vendors who sold copies of the Constitution, anti-Democrat buttons and other Tea Party swag. Traveling from stop to stop, the supporters I talked to all echoed the same sentiments; they do not like President Obama's ideas and policies and are worried the country is spending too much money.