It had been our great good fortune during this recent period when the country was debating the issue of Health Care not to have run into one of these creatures, usually seen at Town Hall meetings, who believed Barack Obama to be Hitler, Satan, Charles Manson, or the Unabomber and who rejoiced in carrying signs that portrayed him with either a bone through his nose or a swastika on his forehead.
But, as any politician will tell you, luck runs out.
Usually when the wife and I would turn up to work at the polls, our biggest disagreements with our conservative brethren were conflicts involving table placement and other mini-strategic goals. Yesterday, however, we were met with a giant blue sign that crowed the following:
(Obama’s Radicals & Democrats)
IS DESTROYING AMERICA.
STOP THE MADNESS!
This was the ugly face of the Teabaggers, the conservative lunatic fringe who take their marching orders from the crackpot brigade of Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh and who believe the only thing wrong with the Republicans is that they’re just not embarrassing themselves in public enough.
Still, it was a shock to see it here, as if someone had laid out some Klan literature. The delicate dance of our opposing parties on occasions such as this usually stopped short of such invective, a gentleman’s agreement being in place that forbade such jackassery for fear of losing the respect of everyone in the room.
This was not, in short, the sort of thing we usually saw from the loyal opposition: a giant sign about 6 feet away from us that pronounced us responsible for the destruction of America.
As it happened, the sign belonged to this fellow from a self-declared “Conservative Party” whose goal, he announced to everyone including the Republicans, was to tear down the Republican Party and rebuild it in a stronger, more conservative image. The poor woman manning the Republican table seemed to want to disappear into the floor. And yet they humored and tolerated him because he was, more or less, on the same side, even if that side seemed to now be expressing itself through a funhouse mirror of frustration and bad punctuation.
His intentionally provocative sign provoked stares and occasional questions. When one voter asked the woman babysitting it if the sign expressed the official viewpoint of the Republican Party, there was a long, embarrassing pause before she managed to say “Ummm…noooooooo,” to the confusion of the chubby gent who’d brought it.
Part of the fascination of listening to him was having the unsettling experience of witnessing a human being parrot back everything he’d been told on the radio. Liberals? “They drank the kool-aid!” School System? “Leftist ideology!” Global Warming? “Junk science!”
Any objections were met with a buzzword or soundbite that didn’t necessarily make sense, but allowed him to make a very annoyed expression that seemed to say, “I wouldn’t look this annoyed unless I was really, really right, would I? Well, would I?” Any suggestions that his sign was inappropriate were met with histrionic cries of “Free speech! Free speech!”
What the Republicans are learning to their sorrow is that when you are through using the useful idiots for your own advantage and convenience and you want them to go away, they just might not want to go away. They just might want to stay there.
They might even want the seat you’re sitting in.
In the end, cooler heads prevailed and the Republicans put the sign out of sight not long after Rush Jr. made his exit. Even they could see how ridiculous it was.
I’ve got some tips if they’re really interested in winning some elections, though. For instance:
The more boxes of these you have, the better you’ll do! (P.S.: Use names that you find in local cemeteries!)