Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Okay, we're not great at organizing protests yet

A couple more tries at this and we'll have our own Woodstock. Then again, that was a disaster, too.

Christopher Beam writes at Slate Magazine some of of his impressions of the Tea party in Washington D.C.

But Wednesday's protest was full of reminders that when it comes to mass demonstration, conservatives are still a little rusty.

"This is the first protest I've ever been to," said Dick Farina, a D.C. resident who showed up with his wife. He wore a sandwich board sign: "Slow to anger. Plenty angry now." Also new was Daniel Kamerling, an engineer who contracts for the Department of Defense and made a sign with supplies he got at Target. Andrew Sexton, who served in Afghanistan until 2006, said, "I'm still new to this whole activism thing."

Indeed, it's hard to think of the last time conservatives have come out in such numbers for anything—Wednesday's rally topped 3,000 in Washington, and some 700 other such parties attracted tens of thousands nationwide. Protests by definition oppose the status quo, which conservatism is supposed to defend. Protesting for conservatism is, to borrow a phrase, like fucking for virginity.

As a result, everything felt upside-down. Bush isn't the overbearing tyrant anymore—Obama is. (One sign dubbed Janet Napolitano "Obama's Gestapo Queen.") Instead of quoting the Constitution on habeas corpus, this group quoted the 10th Amendment on states' rights. Instead of inviting Patti Smith or Sheryl Crow, they sang "America the Beautiful."

Even liberals seemed to fit neatly into the new political order. "Love it or leave it!" shouted Dave Kammer, a bearded counterprotester from Seattle. "You don't want taxes? You don't want gun control? Go to Somalia!"

Maybe if we had a union show us how to hire professional picketers to walk a picket line...