It's official. I'm a crazy person. I led a clean life up until now, but I showed up at a protest rally for the first time in my life, and what dubious group do I choose to associate myself with on my first time out? Those damn redneck-idiot-racist-know-nuthin-Teabagger-Nazi-pieces of trash!
So here is my video from the Flagstaff Tax Day Tea Party Protest. It's nothing fancy, just an eight-minute video of some people out on the lawn in front of Flag city hall. You won't be riveted by this, despite my effort to make it exciting. It's pretty boring actually.
And that's really the point.
There wasn't anything out of the ordinary. If there were nutcases there, they didn't advertise it.
My mission was simple. My intent clear, but easy to accomplish. I decided to go, witness, and record the event with one purpose: to find any nutjobs that I could. I wanted to see if there were any fringe elements to this movement, at least in this town, and figure out, at the very least, if one town in America had a Tea Party group that was worth taking seriously.
Could my eyewitness account or my video prove without a doubt that there are no crazies at all worth considering in the Tea Party movement nationwide? Of course not. But I can at least get a flavor of it in my own town and see for myself and offer my own first-hand account for the record.
Here are some examples of who I would consider a fringe nutjob:
- Nazi's: either Swastika's or Iron Crosses must be present.
- Racists: any signs or slogans that make reference to Barack Obama's race, any disrespectful or shady language or imagry that may indicate the sloganeer may have problems with BHO that dont have anthing to do with his politics.
- Truthers: any claim to the idea that 9/11 was an inside job, or any other conspiracy theorists on display in any way.
- Fundamentalists: rabid anti-abortionists, rabid creationists, religious zealots, or anything that would make a regular guy like me squirm just by being nearby.
In addition to nutjobs, I was on the lookout for:
- Run-of-the-Mill Idiots - because everyone critical of the Tea Party is going to tell you they're all morons. Is it true? Well I planned on talking to a few to see.
A little background: Flagstaff, AZ is a town of 60,000 people. It is a college town with a local University. At the risk of painting with a broad brush, I'll say that the population tends to be somewhat liberal and the "hippie contingent" is quite strong, but there are plenty of Conservative Cowboys here too.
Flagstaff has its share of crazies, left AND right of center. The Planned Parenthood here has protesters outside regularly with pictures of mangled fetuses. The younger left wing anarchist radicals are usually willing to protest at the drop of a hat. If there are crazies to be had in the Tea Party movement, they will show up in Flagstaff.
Not only were there no Truthers or Nazi's. I didn't even see any people with the types of socially conservative messages that I expected to see at a predominantly Republican gathering. This, minus any fringe element above would have been the only thing that could have turned me off, even if there weren't any crazies there. That's because to me, the Tea Party movement is not about social issues. Sure, there are people in it who would call themselves died-in-the-wool conservatives, but that's not the focus here, and that's not what people are worried about.
The other surprizing thing is the amount of approval from the passers by on Route 66, and the minimal amount of disapproval. As you can hear in the video, there is a lot of honking going on, and that was the case for two hours while people were there. Those weren't honks of anger, either. I counted 4 people in the space of 30 minutes (while I was really paying attention and not talking to people) who passed by and flipped the bird, yelled something in disagreement, or gave some other negative reaction. Pretty impresisve, especially for such a fringe radical movement like the Tea Party which is so full of nutjobs that normal people would never agree with in any way...*cough*.
I went and talked to people in the crowd- total strangers I had never met before - just to get a feel for the attitude. I met Warren, James, Theresa, Peggy, and others. All of them had a story to tell. Towards the end you can see that I even ran into an old friend that I didn't know was going to be there. If he's a nutcase, it's news to me.
It was the first time I did anyting like this but it was very interesting.
Wackos, indeed. - Not!