I took a deep breath and stepped into a snake pit Thursday night. Well, almost. I stood at the door listening to the speakers and watching the audience. The Longmont 912 Tea Party gathering was held at Longmont’s Library. The intended purpose was to hear from the most rightwing of the rightwing candidates.
I left wondering how many others that I might pass on the street, see in the grocery store, at the library or at any other venue in Longmont are also living a fabrication they believe to be reality. You can’t tell them by their appearance – except that they are white. Most of them appear to be financially comfortable. The majority of them appear to be middle aged or older.
They are one small step away from anarchists. They love their guns and see a conspiracy to have them taken away from them. They are more against any government than for limited government. They hate taxes and are rigidly convinced that their pockets are being picked and their bank accounts are being raided.
They have no doubt that they and they alone are the only “responsible” members of the larger society. Democrats aren’t responsible. Liberals are even less responsible. And minorities, especially Latinos, have never had a responsible moment in their lives. But, oh no, this has nothing to do with racism. Not them. They are righteous, self-righteous, or more accurately self-absorbed.
They call themselves the Tea Party, but I see little, if any, difference from what are called Conservative Republicans. Every candidate was a Republican. Every candidate was a “conservative”. And the audience liked everything it heard.
The one they really worshipped was Tom Tancredo, poster boy for the lunatic fringe. He slithered into Longmont dressed in a casual jacket and baseball cap that concealed most of his face. He basked in his standing ovations. He honestly thinks he’s one of the “good guys”. Yet there is so much ice running through his veins that he will not need to invest in cryogenics when he passes from this world.
The archetypal gun nut, Tancredo claims that Obama is in cahoots with the United Nations to take away your guns. He forgot to mention the black helicopters.
Tancredo tells them what they want to hear and what he believes, that they are “under siege.” He identifies with them saying, “Every day when you wake up you are either scared to death by what you just read or are mad as hell.” The Tea Partisans enthusiastically agree. He tells them that “the last 50 years have not been good for America” (except for the eight years of Reagan). “We moved ever so slowly…to the left.”
Historians and rational human beings recognize that the opposite is the truth. But facts have never interfered with Tancredo’s thinking. In fact, I doubt he’s ever met a fact he didn’t dismiss. It would do no good to tell the rabble that ever since Nixon conservatives have been making steady progress towards a country in the clutches of the powerful, the filthy rich, the amoral and, in fact, the immoral who have no empathy for their fellow human beings. Whatever suffering and difficulties others may endure is their own fault and is no responsibility of theirs. Get over it.
Where did that phrase show up just recently? Oh yes, Timothy McVeigh, the American terrorist who bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City 15 years ago. He chastised the injured, the survivors, the families of the dead and damaged to “Get over it.”
Tancredo tells the listeners, “Thank God that John McCain was not elected.” He tells the group that “moderate” McCain is running around the country endorsing candidates and that any candidate McCain supports, he’s against. He has a mad-on about Bush, too. What’s their sin? Not conservative enough for him! Obama is the man who will whip the masses into a frenzy and conservatives will once again reign supreme.
Wes Whitely, Republican candidate for House District 11, believes his rightwing audience is overtaxed. He loves TABOR, hates unions and is convinced that the recently passed healthcare bill is “destroying the Constitution.” According to the Longmont Tea Party website, Whitely has received the not-quite-endorsement of Longmont’s Tea Party. The group is not allowed to endorse, so it’s not-quite.
Joel Champion blames the Boulder County Assessor for “criminal” inaction by not letting him know that a property tax exemption was available to disabled veterans [he is], and Champion insists that there is “monkey business going on with the senior’s property tax exemption.” If one is really interested in saving some money, just Google the internet to locate information on the disabled veterans’ exemption. I did—years ago. It wasn’t hard.
And never mind that the state budget must be balanced and that state revenues took a huge dive with the bursting of the housing bubble and the desecration at the hands of the financial industry. Granted, our seniors [I am] have taken a tough hit. If we’d had an honest financial industry, we wouldn’t be struggling. Where are the Tea Partisans on reforming the financial and banking industries? Hmmm. All I hear are raindrops and wind. Oh yes, there’s lots of wind.
Dan Martin, who wants to be Boulder County’s Clerk and Recorder, has invented a conspiracy theory (or perhaps has signed on to one created by Republican operatives). While working at the Recorder’s office during the vote-counting for the 2008 election, he claims that he “saw a cadre of Democrat election workers who were there to establish every questionable vote and were trying to swing the vote their way.” And he promised that he would “fight against the illegal acts of fringe fascist groups, like ACORN.” Now that boogeyman is sure to get a rise out of every redneck-blooded conservative.
Steve Bosley, running for reelection as a C.U. Regent, says “if we were to invent higher education now, tenure wouldn’t be a part of it.” The Board hired “a 4-Star Air Force general to restructure the tenure system.” How’s that for a qualification! How much would you wager that once Bosley ridded the university of those he believes are “liberals” that he’d reinstate tenure to protect conservatives?
He warns that “lots of conservatives won’t donate to C. U. because they don’t want their money decided by a bunch of liberal professors.” He’s got a new program in place and ready to go where five of the 10 members are donors who will hold up funding if it doesn’t go their way. And he’s targeting C.U. Colorado Springs to start bringing nationally known conservatives to the campus.
Tom Lucero, hoping to challenge U.S. Representative Betsy Markey in the Congressional District #4, strutted his stuff around the room, and I do mean strutted. He proudly supports the rabidly rightwing Mount Vernon Statement, believes in personhood from the moment of conception, and hasn’t met a union member for whom he doesn’t have contempt. He sees the healthcare bill (which will add millions of new customers to the current system) as socialized medicine and wants it repealed pronto.
He believes man-made climate change is a “scheme.” He hates regulations. And he believes government assistance is “a pathway to dependency.” He cares so much for his fellow countrymen/women that he believes it is their responsibility and only their responsibility to be “personally responsible without government or someone else taking care of you.” And don’t forget that old standby, “The single greatest obstacle to getting this economy and this country back on track is government.” Dang that ole gubmint, always gummin’ up the works!
Last and oh-so-far-from least is Dan Maes, who wants to be Colorado’s governor. Now here’s a real gem! He proclaims, “You can take TABOR from my cold dead hands.” And you better watch out because “here come the unions, here come the teachers with the violins” and “is this a nanny state or what.” If elected, he’ll “walk in the door and start firing people” in the Governor’s Office, the Department of Local Affairs, and at all of the regulatory agencies.” We’ve got a state bleeding from lack of enough money to meet the needs of the state and its citizens, but Maes wants a “rainy day fund [Where have we heard that one before?], and he wants to give money we don’t have back to the taxpayers.
He’ll “beg forgiveness from every energy company that Bill Ritter chased out of the state.” And he’ll be darned if he’ll support solar or wind if there are any subsidies involved. (How’s that schemey thing workin’ for ya, Dan?) And the federal government’s only responsibility is national defense.
But the pièce de résistance is that he wants to make Colorado a police state just like Arizona. Hold onto your hats folks. This has “nothing to do with race.” It “has to do with [take a breath] “environmental sustainability.”[Ready to go on?] In his ever-so-convoluted perception, Democrats “are enslaving people to their social systems so that they have voters and followers. They want more people they can enslave to their culture.” And he describes the actions of Texas as “warm and fuzzy.” Remember these guys, the ones rewriting American history with their school textbooks?
As a sign-off he rallies the group’s hatred of President Barack Obama proclaiming, “In 2012 this idiot is so gone.”
One individual, far from the progressive side of any aisle, wrote to me calling them “hatriots” and was right on target. And that is most assuredly a metaphor. I’ll leave the gun-toting, ammunition-stockpiling to right-wing “terrorists” on the march to “take back their country.”