Got an email the day before the President is starting a listening tour asking for human wallpaper. “We need you to be pasted at the Lehigh Carbon Community College up in Schnecksville.”
I actually like this type of stuff because it gives me a chance to listen. On the way in I saw some folks I wrote about a few blogs ago from Berks County. The Prothonitary candidate lost his race down there, but his spirits were high since he learned a lot about the process and was happy to be in a crowd to welcome the President. With him was a spark-plug’s spark plug, Beatrice H. who better be working for somebody and delivering (some people just jump out at you).
I had more than a chance to stay with the Obama supporters on the access road into the complex - with the signs and cooler chants and music. Yeahh!!! Hooray for our side!!! It is cool in a campaign, but I am at a different point right now.
There was a small group of teabaggers about 50 yards down the road. I grabbed a Healthcare sign and took the regular jawing as I walked by and stood about 20 yards past them. I held a sign and gave a big smile and thumbs-up to and anyone driving by. You can tell from the faces and thumbs who is with you. I noticed there may be a genetic link between people who drive German luxury vehicles and the inability to give a thumbs-up. Yes, they would smile and wave, but no thumbs-up. Did get a couple one-finger salutes, but they were very few. It gives me a sense of the crowd.
Soon the teabaggers left for another spot on the campus, where the President was actually going to drive past. I followed a short time later. Part of me doesn’t like giving the opposition too much open space. At the new spot I saw people in blue shirts asking Obama to save our jobs. TV cameras from news organizations and student projects filtered in and out to record the crowd. My favorite was a day-care provider who brought all her pre-school charges to see the President. Kids with flags is as American as it gets.
Each side had a Megaphone Point Person (MPP). It appeared the job of this person was to irritate the other side. I will need healthcare passed soon as the Obama MPP nearly blew out my eardrums.
The most interesting place for me is at the point these two forces meet. It is actually about a 10 foot corridor from the last Obama supporter to the first Teabagger. It is almost, ‘we want to get close to you, but we won’t mingle with you’. That is the space I enjoy the most.
I thought it was a hoot when the old GOP lady stated calling me a Communist. I let her know that I was an American, born here, raised here, working here, raising my kids here. But to her I am still a Communist. People from both sides got in between the shouting. A Teabagger came up to me and asked if Van Jones should be where he is. We both agreed he may be too far to the left, he walked away without complaint.
Miguel, who I have seen elsewhere (I asked him what he was running for and he said, “Not yet”), basically was trying to be peaceable about things while looking for the common ground with the teabaggers without giving up core values that he holds. We talked for a few minutes and he moved on.
The Blue team was yelling “O-bam-a, O-bam-a, O-bam-a”. The Teabagger’s MPP tried to sing “God Bless America”, don’t worry the talent scouts won’t be calling.
I started talking to a teabagger with a sign and a Glenn Beck hat, Dave. Dave is getting his info from Glenn Beck and that is that. Obama bad. SEIU bad. Beck does a great job with his expose pieces and Glenn has made the case. I asked Dave about conservative values (I know there are liberals who would call that an oxymoron), where he got them from and the like. Dave is a small business guy who pays close to $500 a month in Health Insurance Premiums. He knows all the stuff for his family is on him. He is worried about the economy, just like everyone else. I asked Dave about the Invisible Hand. He never heard of it. I told him about Adam Smith and how he was really the Philosophical Father of Conservative thought. We talked for a bit more and while I didn’t get him to change anything – he is thinking. While he didn’t get me to change – I am thinking.
As Dave and I broke off, I moved to the front of the rope line, about 50 yards from the road the President would traverse. Still in between the groups the yelling back and forth intensified. “O-bam-a, O-bam-a, O-bam-a” met “Obama Must Go” to create white noise that no one can think thru. The MPP’s for both sides changed their batteries.
There was more of the undercurrent trash talk going on when I finally said to a teabagger with a flag, “When are you guys going to start your own Party?”
“We’re taking over the Republican Party”, and he was proud of it.
“That’s great. Where do the moderates go?”, I responded.
“I’ll tell them where to go”, a voice jumped out.
“There will never be a third party here. The moderates will stay with us.”, from another voice.
“Why?”, throwing the ball back to them.
“Because the state is a two party state”, another said.
“What if I told you that you could freeze the Democratic Party out?”…
They really perked up.
After I explained some of the nuances of precinct politics, they said, “Why should we listen to you? You want to see us go down.”
“You don’t have to listen to me, fine. Think it out for yourselves”.
It was cool watching the wind drop from their sails. I could almost see the wheels turning, “Do we yell at this guy? Do we engage him further? Is this a Democratic plant?”
The MPP’s picked up again. One would say something and the other would have to respond. It just got annoying after a while.
Finally, one of the about 7 people standing there decided to see what my starting point of view was. “Do you believe in the Consitution as it was written?”
“It is a living document.” (Conservatives hate this answer. A good rejoinder is, “It wasn’t written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John”.)
“Who wrote it?”
“Madison, but the selling of it was really the Federalist Papers.” (Conservatives love the Federalist Papers, so if you are going to debate these guys, take some time to understand their playing field.)
Once my street cred was established, Kevin, the inquisitor and I starting talking. I asked him about the Invisible Hand. He got his street cred as a real conservative.
We started talking. For real talking. We both had our signs in hand, we both see the same sets of problems before the country. We are both scared as hell as to what is happening. Both our spouses work in the Healthcare field. We have kids at roughly the same stations in life. We are the same guy (he’s a little older, I’m a little heftier).
After a few minutes we were both getting ticked at the MPP’s. We weren’t Liberal guy vs. Teabagger. We are a couple of Americans who know we are sitting under a pile of bricks about to come crashing down around us.
The funniest thing was as we were solving all these ills, a reporter from the local East Penn newspaper came up to us, said he took our picture without us knowing it because we were just talking. He took our names and towns and went on.
There is something really wrong when it is news that a couple of Americans are talking TO each other instead of AT each other.
An MPP announced that the President’s motorcade was close. Kevin and I broke off. We went up to the line and cheered and jeered or whatever. I was surprised at the small size of the motorcade, but I guess Obama is cutting costs.
The last thing I remember yelling today was a rejoinder to the Teabaggers, “Obamas got to go!”.
“He’ll be ok, there’s a men’s room inside.”