Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Crashing the (Tea) Party

I admit it. I could say the devil made me do it, but I just couldn't help myself. I had to go down (up) to the 222 Riverside building so I passed Federal Plaza on Adams just as organizers were passing out signs. So I thought I'd blend in.

Except the fact that I had on my Obama fleece, which I didn't exactly realize.

Still, no one seemed to mind. I walked around Federal Plaza -- it wasn't exactly crowded, and estimates of a couple hundred sounds about right -- talking to people and asking why they came and where they were from. More than a few admitted that they worked at the Merc. Only one person admitted that they made their sign. "Where's my bailout?" it said. I wondered if that was (sorta) off message.

As people started to speak, I drifted towards the back but was asked twice to move back in by the wranglers. "We want to make it look good for the cameras," one of them told me. When I turned around, he pointed at my Obama logo and asked, "What are you doing here?" After I realized why he asked, I chuckled. "It's not a public event?" I replied.

Most attendees were pretty open about their anger. The term, socialism, was thrown around pretty liberally. Yet no one got nasty (me being in my Obama jacket) or accusatory. I asked several people if they had a copy of their talking points, but no one admitted having a copy. People did admit that they got an email about the event.

As I got bored, I walked up to the Riverside Building. It being lunch time, there were more people in the building's courtyard than there were at the rally. Probably the biggest contrast with this event and the last one I was at in Federal Plaza (an antiwar event) was the absence of Chicago police. I guess the Mayor isn't threatened by a bunch of right-wing protesters...


47th Ward,  7:33 PM  

I too felt a compulsion to witness the Event in person. I got there right at noon and only made one lap around Federal Plaza, but I was surprised and sort of impressed by what I saw.

It was definitely an odd assortment of people. I thought it was essentially the physical manifestation of the Ron Paul coalition more than anything. But the place was full, my WAG is over 1,500, and much more diverse than I expected.

From the signs I saw and other observations, there were a lot of Libertarians and lots of rank-and-file Republicans; as many borderline fascists as wannabe anarachists; pro-pot and pro-lifers; States rightsers and 2nd Amendmenters; Anti-tax-ites and anti-UNers; Black, white and brown; Men and women; some well off and some working class; but overall, mostly sincere and decent people.

Despite the fact that I don't agree with the premise of the event, nor understand what motivated any of them to attend (ftr, I also don't understand the leftist groups that protest the G-5, et al), I thought it was a good event.

I hate typing that, but it's true. They may be misguided, but they live here too.

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