Friday? Tax Day Tea Party at Raymond James Stadium left me wondering exactly what the future of the Tea Party may be, and whether there is a future for many of these disparate groups at all. Besides the predictability of angry voters, the overall feel of the event was, well, Corporate. To me, the multiple tables and groups resembled nothing more than a public marketplace, with each business trying to find their place in this new ?olitical?movement – and profit from its existence.
Gone was the vision of a true grassroots movement, where a passionate individual stood in the back of a pick-up truck, delivering a message from a megaphone. Instead, that piece of Americana had been replaced with a huge stage, a VIP tent, back-stage passes, and a slew of speakers seemingly more concerned with self-promotion ?and the promotion of their newly formed organizations ?than actually raising public awareness and political literacy. Yes, whenever there is a movement, opportunists will attempt to profit from it. Still others will attempt to separate the ?mportant?folks from the general population of ?ess-important?individuals. That is part of the human condition.
As the event began, I was disappointed by the general decorum the crowd – especially during the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, where many individuals who claim to be ?atriots? seemingly forgot about the respect that our National Anthem is due, left hats on, continued conversations and proved the old adage that it is easier to talk the talk, than walk the walk. Even more disappointing was that the vast majority of individuals I met and spoke with, could not really talk the talk either ?at least in an educated manner.
As I mingled, I ran into several individuals extolling the virtues of the Constitution, but frankly, most of their lofty proclamations were either completely false, or downright absurd. One gentleman, felt that we should avail ourselves to ?etters of marque? which was, according to him ?and my surprise ?contained in the 7th Amendment, allowed us to own tanks, and to attack our enemies as citizens. Another individual gave an interesting argument that the 9/11 was an inside job; and, yet another was convinced that the states had every right to seize powers, specifically delegated to the federal government, for themselves. Unfortunately, I avoided the fringy-types, or I would have much more interesting examples.
And there were signs. One individual felt that the photo of a child, extending her middle finger, with a caption referencing Obama was an effective message that may yield logical conversation and debate. Another sign pleaded Obama to cease ?ancrupting?our country and another was very concerned with the size of the ?efecit? and yes I spelled these words as they were written.
As the day turned to evening, I fought the urges to accept an invitation from a friend, to imbibe at a local establishment, and stayed to hear Senator Marco Rubio speak. In a way, hearing the Senator speak made my earlier experiences of the day seem, well, less disturbing. After all, here was man – elected by many of the people who, only a few hours earlier, had all but destroyed my faith in logic and reason – who was both articulate and intelligent. His message was clear, principled and founded in fact.
Ah, the virtues of a Republic; the pain and joy of the First Amendment; and the colors of humanity.