Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tea Time

I went to a Tea Party rally yesterday. Don't judge me too quickly. I went to an Obama rally two years ago right across the street from this site. So I am not expressing my political loyalties by attending such a rally. It is just that there is not much to do in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

Besides watching the rivers flow and the smokestacks smoke, there is not much excitement around here. Furthermore I had heard and read a lot about this movement - both good and bad - so I went to see for myself what all the fuss is about.

They were meeting in front of the county courthouse, so I texted my daughter and her husband who live nearby. I told them to meet my wife and me at the courthouse for tea. I almost tricked her into coming until she found out that it was politically flavored tea. They walked to the courthouse with us, but then they kept on walking to Starbucks. That was more their cup of tea.

I got right in there and rubbed shoulders with real gun-carrying conservatives. There were the typical handshaking politicians working the crowd, looking for votes. I told them the truth, "I don't vote for ruling party candidates.  You got us into this mess. I vote only for third parties or independents now. I want my vote to count."

Conservative radio personalities were the featured speakers, and patriotic songs were sung ... badly. There were no radicals that I could see. Some placards connected Obama with socialism, but I've seen more offensive signs at anti-Bush rallies.

There were just a lot of flags and copies of the Constitution floating around. There was more talk of taxes and gun rights than anything else. In short, it seemed that these were pretty ordinary folks with some gripes. There was anger expressed at "the other side," but no more than at any political rally.

Then I crossed to the other side - literally. On the opposite side of the street was the regular weekly demonstration of the local peace organization - the kind of people who promote the "social and economic justice" that Glenn Beck finds so dangerous. These people held signs against war and for healthcare.

I didn't really see the point of the pro-healthcare reform placards. Didn't they already win that battle? I guess old habits die hard. Or maybe they just hadn't found time to make new signs. Anyway they were advertising a folk concert with a banner that read "Make Music - Not War." That sounded good. I took down the info. I like music more than war too.

These left-leaning folks also seemed like nice ordinary people. It struck me that both sides were protesting against actions of the same government. If they could only get together with their neighbors across the street, they might accomplish something. But that would call for bipartisan cooperation, which is rare these days on any side of the street.

So ... that was my excitement for a nice spring Saturday. But I tell you one thing. Next weekend, the Tea Partiers will be gone, but the Peaceniks will be there, as they have been every Saturday from 1:00 to 2:00 for years ... rain or snow or sun. I have to respect them for that. Plus they have better music.

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