Monday, September 13, 2010

Portrait of the Teabaggers as a Mature Movement

Mature as in “more than a year old and thus slightly less likely to literally shit themselves,” that is. Yesterday the Tea Party rolled back into Washington, one year to the day after we first made their acquaintance during the storied 9/12/2009 March on the Capitol. This year, as last, some friends of the Train came out to help us form the second incarnation of The Conductors. Behold:

Dizzle sported a sign which worked on a few levels- none of which were picked up on by the proud teabagging masses. They saw Marxism, they saw crush, they saw something about a final solution- they shouted their approval. Somewhere, a CEO is now wondering if he could actually unironically use this as a slogan.

A mysterious friend known simply as D couldn’t pick just one complaint, and carried a sign expressing some slightly over-generalized frustration. Luckily her sign fit in just fine, given that the crowd was angry about everything from socialism to fascism to Islam to clouds.
La France took up my old sign from last year, and JJ reprised his own. Mine was a variation on a theme- perhaps the fine print will make things clearer:

(Warning: Don’t go to that site. Don’t do it.)

And what were we up against? The crowd itself was noticeably smaller, probably reflecting the split caused by Glenn Beck’s Rambling Jesus-a-thon two weeks ago. Again, many people chose to set up lawn chairs and nap, especially towards the back end of the crowd. There was a distinct aura of drowsiness to the participants this time.

Still, some people managed to stand- like this guy, who is seriously angry about Islam:

This gentleman just likes to keep his options open:

Here we see someone who actually believes that America is being threatened by “Mohammedan Socialists,” in a pretty severe case of tilting at windmills-itis.

This guy was really proud of his faux-Maoist Obama shirt, until Dizzle and I started applying Teabagger logic and loudly berated him for supporting the economy of Communist China. He quickly tried to claim that his “friend” had bought it for him in China, but our righteous pro-capitalist rant continued while we walked away. There’s no winning when you play by Teabagger rules.

Nothing to say here other than that I feel really bad for the kid in the middle, who apparently has a long life of dressing like a frontiersman and hanging out with nutcases ahead of him.

This one really speaks for itself:

This poor woman plans to sit on a lawn chair protesting nonsensically until the end of time:

So yes, the signs were every bit as impressive as last year. But something had changed- some spark has left the movement, leaving it feeling almost despondent at times. Last year the entire thing felt like a festival of lunacy, but Sunday was sluggish and desultory. What happened?

JJ and I tried to figure it out. Maybe the Teabaggers are starting to realize, on some subconscious level, that their entire movement is a sham designed to elect Republicans who won’t actually do any of the preposterous things they demand? The rally was also littered with the ghosts of wingnut memes of the past. Birthers, once stalwarts of the Teabag movement, seem to have almost gone extinct. The survivors seem to understand that they aren’t going to get Obama deported to Kenya any time soon. Similarly, the death panels promised by Sarah Palin turned out to be nonexistent; a figment of the Right’s fevered imagination. Now most of the HCR-related signs confined themselves to complaining about its effects, real or imagined, on the deficit.

The Tea Party gained its strength from an ability to fuse various wingnut memes into one cohesive movement. It gave these people the impression that they’re part of something important- a vehicle for sweeping the Kenyan Marxist Fascist Islamic Fundamentalist back to the moon or something, not just a vehicle for selling Dick Armey’s books and sweeping his friends into office. Perhaps it’s for the best that they start coming to terms with this today- because the Republicans who benefit from their votes in November are no more likely to deliver on their demands than Obama is to please the progressives who voted for him in 2008. If the Republicans win big in November then the Tea Party will have officially outlived its usefulness, and that doesn’t bode well for future 9/12 gatherings.


  1. JN - your last 2 paragraphs were great in summarizing the movement, from an 'outsider's' perspective

  2. Did you really berate a guy for supporting communist China? I don't know how you stomach attending these things.

  3. Favorite snippet of overheard conversation at the rally: "...and I have a Nazi flag at home..."

  4. um... so who's posting as quasi-me?

  5. uh oh, i wonder which is the real jaypop, and which is the evil jaypop...

  6. Not sure who they are, but I agree with fake jaypop's comment. Really great take on what's changed for the teabaggers since last year.

  7. let's be clear on this, for starters - the real jaypop IS the evil jaypop. And both of those are me. You know you can believe me, since I'm evil. And we all know that evil people are some of the most believable folks ever.

    I don't know who the hell this goody-goody jaypop is, but clearly he is some sort of impostor, bent on cleaning up my fake internet-name.

    Or I was somehow posting on your site in my sleep.

  8. "Republicans who benefit from their votes in November are no more likely to deliver on their demands than Obama is to please the progressives who voted for him in 2008."


  9. Do you have more photos?

  10. yep. they're going up tonight/tomorrow.