Preutopians Go Undercover at the Tea Party
What kind of parents take their children to gawk at people with the opposite political views as ours? I dunno. Maybe not good ones, but nonetheless KC's own Tax Day Teabagging at Liberty Memorial made the to-do list this evening.
I suppose the optimist in me wanted my children to witness the day when the neo-cons turned off Fox News, loaded the kids up and stood holding signs, finally breathing some life into the faux populism of the last few elections. The pessimist in me wanted the kids to see a dissonant grouping of (actual, not Fox-brand) libertarians, neo-cons and old fashioned compassionate conservatives (img via TKC) floundering as their worldview reveals itself as outmoded. For myself, I wanted to witness fellow Americans getting riled up about -- no, not children dying or the metaphorical shredding of the Geneva Convention, not providing health insurance to children of the working poor in this country -- no, not any of that -- they are sick of ... taxes. Taxes!! Taxes and freeloaders! Just which freeloaders, I never quite got the names of but looking around the crowd, I got the feeling that the picture of said freeloaders in the collective mind's eye looked more like this:
The simple fact was that the crowd had far more representatives from Exhibit B than Exhibit A (I saw two walking up from H&R Block with signs in tow). So, let me call that a rational inference.
And you know, it's not that I'm a supporter of the bailouts or the MASSIVE influence of Wall Street in this administration. It's a fucking travesty. A travesty of the similar consequence as the massive war-profiteering that occurred during the last administration when another multi-national corporation called Halliburton had its paws in the nation's coffers through backroom dealings (just like AIG in this administration) and rigged contract bidding. It's ridiculous to not call a spade a spade. To, within the same breath call for impeachment of this president over AIG and bailouts and out of the other side of the mouth protest any investigation into the previous administration's illegal dealings with Halliburton or wire-tapping or any number accusations just as grave. What is the difference?
More importantly, what do the tea partiers want? What is the end goal here? Impeachment? I've asked around quite a bit. No one has much of an answer for me but impeachment seems to be mentioned most consistently. I've been to my share of ill-fated liberal protests, let me tell you, and what they all shared was a lack of cohesion in the end game message. I saw that today. But truly, without a workable solution, it amounts to little more than pissing and moaning. It's like they just figured out that they're being taxed? I wonder when they'll actually look at their paystubs and figure out that the majority of them just benefitted from the largest middle class tax cut in history?
Eh, the truth is, I felt pretty uncomfortable as looks of approval were shot our way. After all, we had all the same trappings of those around us -- the two kids (albeit not dressed in stars and stripes themed casual wear), stroller, pale faces with dashing good looks, good enough jobs -- so it was natural. I wondered what they'd look at me like if they knew I once trekked out into a dark snowy Milwaukee night to hear Gloria Steinem stump for Gore.
As I looked out at the crowd of 1500 or so today (not 5k as is being reported by the right-wingers naturally but still exceptional for a KC protest) a wave of disappointment hit me as I thought back to March 2003, standing at the Plaza holding signs protesting the impending invasion of Iraq and all the blantantly false pretense with which our country mounted that effort, standing with my dad, a Vietnam vet, beside me and counting it a huge success with 500 people in attendance. I was swept up by the deep disappointment that such a broad swath of humanity can't be mobilized to care about 'collateral damage' on the other side of the world, babies outside of the womb and on a middle eastern woman's hip, or even to care so deeply about the sacrifice of a young American soldier's life that they would require government accountability in exchange for that ultimate sacrifice ... and I thought of Jesus saying What you do unto the least of you, you do unto me.
I saw a woman walking around with a sign reading 'Are you a Producer or a PARASITE?" Just the unabashed materialism on display! While I saw mostly good people standing there indignant about 401ks that have lost value or dismal home values or social security or welfare moms, I also saw greed. I saw greed returned with greed.
I guess some of us never learned how to share in kindergarten. (aside: In fact, unless you want to raise a bunch of mindless socialist drones, that rule should be taken off the board in kindergarten. We shouldn't be MADE to share!) And for the lady carrying that sign that constructed the producer/parasite binary, I want to tell her to never drive again on OUR interstate. If she wants a road, she can build her own. If she wants to be able to flush her poo down the toilet and not have it come back in her water glass when she pulls the tap, she should quit siphoning off my tax dollars and my husband's tax dollars in order to get clean water and go buy a couple of rivers in Canada (and hope for the best). What hubris in thinking that because you've never been down and out, you never will be! Or, for the guy holding the No Social Security (whilst I give him points for consistency on the socialism talking point), that because you've never been old and on a fixed income, you never will be? That just because your boss still affords you the luxury of breaking a sweat on your weekly TPS reports, the Vietnam vet without legs and an education shouldn't look to your producing ass for a handout. I mean, seriously, IS THIS the world these people really want to live in? Sometimes I wonder where people's hearts are.
Especially THESE people who, as I looked around, for the most part, exuded that uniquely American brand of fresh-faced suburban hopefulness and neighborliness. There were the bitter folk, of course, but there were mostly a lot of genuine people who saw themselves there as defending their children's futures, and while a stew of mixed messages and sublimated motivations ultimately muddled the goal, I have to respect that part of what they were trying to do.
Update: Do check out KC-based art toy phenom, MAD's, sweet signs for the JoCo Tea Party. I may not agree but I know badass art when I see it.