Capitalism at the Tea Party Convention

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Jeffrey McQueen lost his auto industry job in Detroit a year ago, but now he’s making a few bucks off of Tea Party activists — income he said comes from real anger.

“I kind of felt that if the government hadn’t intervened with the auto industry and with the housing market that I’d still be working,” McQueen said in the hall of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, where the National Tea Party Convention is underway.

Those feelings led McQueen, 50, to launch his Web site, USRevolution2.com, where he sells his own variation of the American flag to Tea Party activists. The flag has 13 stars surrounding the Roman numeral II, symbolizing “the second American Revolution.”

It took only 14 days before he received orders from people in all 50 states – “I guess there were people from all over the country who felt the same way I did.”

He said he’s now making about $10,000 a month off the venture, which he says “is enough to pay the bills.”

“If I’m lucky the flag will go viral,” McQueen said.

He said he’s been accused of profiteering of the movement, but in the case sales of the flag “go viral” and start to bring in some serious money, McQueen said he’d donate 95 percent of the profits “to help patriots” get elected. He’d keep 5 percent to help support his four children, wife and dog.

A number of well-known people, from Ann Coulter to Joe the Plumber, have his flags. He added that he was late to the convention on Saturday because he was at a Nashville post office mailing about 45 flags to buyers.

After McQueen sent former Gov. Sarah Palin — set to address the convention tonight — a flag, he received a hand written card of thanks from her.

“I’m sure when she sees the flag tonight, she’ll recognize it,” he said.

Palin seems to be enjoying the capitalism of the movement, too. She’s reportedly receiving more than $100,000 for Saturday night’s speaking gig (though now says she will donate the money to conservative causes).

The organizers of the convention have also come under criticism for the event’s high ticket prices, accused of making a profit from the event. Convention spokesman Mark Skoda has scoffed at the accusation, saying he’s not going to “apologize for being a capitalist.” (The accusation will surely be present this afternoon as a group of former allies — and now fierce critics — of the National Tea Party Convention have planned a news conference at the resort where the convention is being held “to challenge [the convention] on all levels,” Politico reports.)

The rest of Saturday’s convention agenda is devoted to group discussions on topics like “where the Tea Party movement goes from here,” before the final event of the convention — the steak and lobster banquet dinner keynoted by Palin.