After driving the GOP’s efforts to shut down the government over Obamacare, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) headlined a march on Sunday to protest the closure of national parks and war memorials. Cruz and Lee shared the stage with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at the Million Veterans March. The Tea Party was out in full force, with attendees waving giant Confederate flags in front of the White House and speakers calling for President Obama to “put down the Quran” and “come out with his hands up.” One man was arrested at the World War II memorial with a rifle and ammunition.
Apparently, the original organizers of the veterans’ march are displeased with the Tea Party’s co-opting of their protest. On the Million Vet March homepage, the organizers suggest a local organizer invited Tea Party and birther groups against the wishes of the veterans:
The political agenda put forth by a local organizer in Washington DC was not in alignment with our message. We feel disheartened that some would seek to hijack the narrative for political gain. The core principle is about all Americans honoring Veterans in a peaceful and apolitical manner.
The organizers say they are simply calling for war memorials to stay open at all times and disowned the “disheartening acts of a few powerful Washington elite and political extremists jumping on the opportunity to make money.” On their Facebook page, they blamed “certain groups that have piggy-backed off our grassroots efforts” for obscuring their message. “We made the mistake of trying to partner with some Washington insiders that thwarted many of our genuine concerns for keeping this apolitical and grassroots. While we support many of those groups common causes for Veterans, we do not support the manner in which they go about it. We chose instead to not incite or create panic.”
Ironically, Palin promised during her speech that she and other conservative public figures would “not be timid in calling out any who would use our military, our vets, as pawns in a political game.”
Radical lawmakers and the Republican National Committee have tried to use veteran protesters to shift blame for the shutdown onto Obama. So far, this strategy doesn’t seem to be working. Polls show most Americans blame Republicans for the shutdown, and both the GOP and the Tea Party’s popularity are at all-time lows.