So my good friend Scott pointed out that for all of my talk about Teabaggin', I was strangely ambivalent about the opportunity to see one in the flesh. Well, my inner anthropologist and innate love of freaks won out in the end. Resolved: I would walk freely among the Teabaggers, pretending to be one so that I might learn of their ways.
The first question was if I could successfully infiltrate them. I'd need something like a Soldier of Fortune t-shirt, a bandana, a ratty old Army coat, and the ability to look like a mouthbreather with an IQ of 98.
Next, I would need someone with a funny sign that Teabaggers would laugh at without realizing that it was making fun of them. Liz?
CHECK. Note the twin bags hanging testicularly.
But what would we see there? Would there be misspellings?
Oh HELLSYEAH there would be misspellings. (If that's not clear, the Patriot's sign reads "Remember Descent the highest form of patriotic.") He sign make good! Was that an isolated example of poor facility with the English language?
I have a theory that you should never protest against something until you can spell it correctly. I must admit that I got a chuckle out of "Don't Tax Me, Bro." But now for the important questions: would there be racist signs? Come on, tell me there would be racism.
Ha ha ha! Homeschooled rural Indiana kids hold the darnedest signs. Would there also be wingnuttery? Would there be old people? White ones?
Guys hawking guns? Well, he knows his audience!
Yes, it was quite the human zoo. The thing is, everyone looked like they were having so much fun being furious, bitching, moaning, and directing all sorts of hate at the concept of taxation. I decided to give it a try with some archaic flags as a backdrop.
GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! I AM SO MAD ABOUT MY ENTIRELY REASONABLE TAX BURDEN WHICH IS THE SMALLEST IN THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD AND WILL GET SMALLER THANKS TO THE NEW PRESIDENT!
Good times. And now a word about the event. First, I must give non-ironic, sincere props to the event attendees. The weather was lousy and there were at least 150 people there. I tip my hat to that. Good turnout. The consensus estimates among my cohort (me, Liz, Scott, Amanda, Patti, and Will) was somewhere between 150 and 200 attendees. That is respectable; now let's get a good chuckle out of how ridiculously they inflate it.
The event itself lasted about four minutes. A guy with a bullhorn led the Pledge of Allegiance and gave a "speech" that lasted just long enough to pop a bag of microwave popcorn. At this point about half of the crowd left. Literally, they sighed a collective "OK, I've done my part" and ambled back to their SUVs. What remained was a smaller number of vocal sign-wavers who lined a street that receives very little traffic and shouted at passing cars. They seemed to be mistaking the horn honks and waves as an upswell of support, but I think most of the passersby were making fun of them.
In summary, the crowd was decently sized, 99.9% white, 90% over 60 or under 6, 50% cowboy-hatted, and REALLY angry about…something. It was far from a grassroots political movement. It was a bunch of people who overcame their revulsion toward other people long enough to stand in the same place for 180 seconds before disbanding and rushing to the nearest Waffle House. No real media showed up and, in a not-coincidence I'll have much more to say about next week, there was no police presence. I guess big groups of white people without permits don't necessitate quite as many angry cops as an anti-war rally!
It was an honest oversight, I'm sure. Just remember, this is the face of real America, and the face of a new revolution sweeping the nation. Look upon it and tremble: