On the intersection of S. Tryon and Carowinds Drive a crowd gathered to show the result of partisan political views, misinformation, fear and entirely too much free time. Using hyperbole as a crutch the Tea Party lined the street during President Obama's trip to Charlotte on Friday. I covered the event attempting to blend in as a member of the media. I fooled some but was still received with suspicion.
They arrived with the standard issue Tea Party gear. Dated looking American Flag shirts, windbreaker like pants and blue blockers and spoke of the next American revolution. Apparently reforming health care will destroy Americans work ethic and will destroy our freedoms. It was argued that under the nanny state of Socialism there would be no incentive to work at all. Tea Party members shouted "freeloaders" to a group of black folks who stood across the street supporting the president. Officially the focus of the protest was "anti-Obama care" and the demonstrators feared our health care turning into a system like that of France, Germany or Cuba... all countries with a higher life expectancy than the US.
I have seen plenty of anti-Bush protests while in college, but there's anger and hysteria with the Tea Party group I've never experienced. It could also just be that historically the far right has struggled with humor and satire without appearing angry or bat shit crazy. While I champion free speech I take issue with groups accusing any opposing view as "Anti-American". As if they define the United States and have got the monopoly on morality. Call me old fashioned but I also like to limit the amount children used as pawns for political agendas.
I find it frustrating how children are used as a talking point. The classic "won't anyone think of the children" appeal followed by a smug mention of the heath care bills protection of children with preexisting conditions not taking effect for several more years. A problem that the Conservatives had not even begun to address. Somehow because the Democrats bill results aren't instantaneous the policy is even more of a failure than not doing anything at all. The "free market" wouldn't have solved it any faster. Like somehow the health of a child is almost as important as landing your political cheap shot.
A disagreement that is allegedly over a health care bill evolves and creates a life of it's own. Before too long the commander and chief of our country is a enemy of our country? He is a Socialist out to take your guns, freedoms and money. A foreign born commie who wants huge government and a dictatorship. What they need is a Hot Tub Time Machine or the next Ronald Regan... whatever comes first.
The issue with such a loosely organized, highly visible protest is that their main focus is lost. A few people had legitimate concerns with the national debt, others weren't sure Obama was actually a natural born US citizen. While some didn't want government controlling health care others wanted 2nd Amendment rights above anything else. One man wanted everyone to be saved by Christ and assumed that would pretty much be a comprehensive approach. Some at the protest were well informed and mainstream, most seemed to be classified as "the lunatic fringe." It's unfortunate for the Conservatives that the more radical of the right seem to be constantly in the spotlight.
The notion that a Beck/Palin administration is the kind of fix we need is beyond lunatic fringe. A man who weeps on camera, scribbles on a chalkboard and sees Socialism in the darnedest of places teaming up with what amounts to a blogger who can't finish what she starts. Fridays gathering of tea baggers ended up focusing on how angry they were, but misery loves company so they'll be doing it again on April 15th.