The news crews showed, called in by the local Republican party offices (according to the News 8 camera guy that I was talking to). Once the cameras showed up, the people started getting a little more vocal. It is a strange, uncomfortable thing to be in a crowd that tries to rally. Embarrassing, mostly. Three guys at the edge of the crowd started moving people into a tighter clump wherever the camera was pointed, making the field of view fill with angry white people. They also did their level best to get the "SECEDE NOW" and "REVERSE RACISM IS STILL RACISM" and "IMPEACH OSAMA OBAMA" signs moved out of the cameras but the news this morning showed them in all their fruitbat glory.
A handful of younger people showed up late, obviously part of some email chain or flashmob set up by local democrats, signs and voices in support of reform, none of them entertaining. They shouted questions to the protesters, tried to engage the lunatics with fact. Both sides lost their message in the grumbling, but the crazies were definitely louder and crazier.
In the end, the best possible outcome came to be: the protesters and their crazed signs were given news time, which made them happy, and made them look totally fanatically nuts. Their message, a muddy, misdirected, unfocused anger, came off like it has for months now: crazy. The louder and more energetic they get, the crazier they come off. The best part are these fruitbat secessionists, guys who have no idea that we're the second or fifth largest consumer of federal funds (depending on who you talk to), apparently unaware that every action in their day is assisted by the country they seem to despise. Then there's the Klan guys...they don't bring signs but they do subtly show their colors. They engaged in earnest discussion with a white-haired old lady from a nearby town, and after some minutes she's parroting back to them in all earnest anger "well why should a black man decide when I die?" then a quick "why should any man?" and they go on with her about Hispanic courts and illegals getting the same level of care as honest Americans. Then there's the Libertarians, the ones who believe that corporate America will do a better job of caring for Americans than Americans would. They've apparently never had their insurance canceled retroactively, or had insurance at all, really.
Crazy. Textbook loony, every single one of them. And a real risk of running the country again if we're not careful, if we just laugh them off. On the one hand, it is perfectly OK to let them get as much exposure as possible. The more room they have to act nutty, the nuttier they act. On the other hand, old people seem to be in a collective selfish game with our future, and they can't be relied on to make sense of insanity when it has an air of authority (or comes from a strong AM radio signal). These are the same people who forward email hoaxes like they are actual news, and honestly believe them. The need is there to have a strong, well-publicized common sense voice, one that speaks to their fear and quells it with emotional, nostalgic plugs for the betterment of our country. We need Johnny Carson back from the dead to let these folks know that it is OK to care for people besides themselves.
That's the struggle, though, isn't it. Finding the Right Message. The heart of it is now marketing. Where problems were once solved they are now spun. Both sides do their level best to avoid solutions, since a solution can break you if it is the wrong one, and odds are the marketing guys on the other team will make sure that any firm solution is the wrong one. At some point maybe the message is the method. Maybe this is the future of both democracy and capitalism: empty rhetoric derailing the common goal of a better society.
On a scale of one to fucking hell, I'll give it a firm 7: entertainingly crazy with a hint of malicious control fed by Rovian underlings who seek to undermine freedom with conspiratorial slavery.
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