I’d give anything if I could attend Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity on the Washington Mall this coming October 30th. I can’t count how many times as I watched the more insane crowds of the Tea Party march on our nation’s capital with signs reflecting their non-reality that I screamed inside with “what planet are you people from”? Where was this outrage about government deficits when Bush and Cheney were engaging in policies that replaced a huge surplus with a record deficit? Why the shrieking against federal support (bailouts) for broken financial institutions and mismanaged auto manufacturers while Washington has been subsidizing wealthy profitable oil and coal companies with billions each year?
Sure, the high unemployment rate wasn’t a factor several years back as it is now which tells me that as long as people weren’t removed from their comfort zones from abusive policies that depleted our treasury while enhancing the private coffers of a wealthy few, there was no reason to show any virulent outrage. But more than just high job loss is a factor here. Now that retirement accounts and private held stock investments are suffering, the upper middle class has found their voice. These were primarily the people that drove to Tea Party rallies in their late model SUVs and high-end campers. They came to protest what they viewed as a change in the status quo that had kept them financially secure all these years as the wealth gap increased at ever alarming rates.
But unlike them I can’t take the time to march on Washington. It’s not that I don’t have the time; I’ve been unemployed for a year now with no hope of ever capturing a job that can replace the income I was making. I’ll be 62 this December so that makes me part of the population that is least likely to get a job while competing with 5 other more younger job seekers for the same position. But having time on my hands doesn’t mean I have the financial resources to make such a trip.
Fortunately my wife makes a good living as a Registered Nurse and has a health benefit package I was able to latch onto, unlike many who find themselves unemployed today. I also was able to stow away a healthy amount in my 401k over the 18 years I worked for my last employer and so had some financial resources to fall back on and clear what encumbering debt remained with us, including my mortgage, and still had a good amount to roll over into an IRA to help offset those smaller Social Security payments I will start collecting after my next birthday.
If I were only located on the East coast, preferably no more than a two hundred mile drive from D.C. I would have the means and desire to fulfill this wish. The best it seems I can do is participating in a local event that will serve as a substitute for people like me. It’s important that those of us who can should make it either to Stewart’s rally in Washington or find a local event in their area. We need to demonstrate to the colonial thinking crowd that claimed to represent the American people that in fact they don’t. Technically I have the appearance of a typical Tea Party participant; I am white and male. But I am not a conservative, no longer associate with traditional Christianity and the bulk of my income has come from my labor, not my stock portfolio.
Some traditions of my past are not something I’m proud of. I was raised in the South and watched the humiliation of blacks as they were forced to use separate bathrooms, drinking fountains and sitting at the back of the bus. Thank god I never witnessed a lynching. I was never able to comprehend why a women who did the same work as a man was paid a lower wage. I was attacked by local Protestants for my Catholic religious views and later when I let my hair get longer than was socially acceptable back then, I was refused service in a restaurant. This is the America that many Tea Partiers want to take back. To think anything else is simply being naive.
Why would you want to reinstate a government that favors corporate interests over the general welfare of the public? Why would we want to elect people to serve in public office that have openly expressed their hatred for people who are not Christian and heterosexual? Women and children in our society are vulnerable to the exploitative and self-serving practices of the health insurance and the pharmaceutical industries yet those at Tea Party rallies have demanded that we remove federal regulations that prevent such abuses and are even willing to strip the new health care bill of reasonable changes that prevent you from being denied coverage for reasons that question human ethics.
Now no one seriously expects Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert’s joint “Keep Fear Alive” rally to provide the definitive answer to the serious issues we face today. What would be insane would be for some to view this rally as anything more than a poke at rather extreme people who take themselves too serious. I suspect there will be some sensible comments about certain boundaries that when crossed invite criticism from the general public. It would be the height of folly however for anyone to attack this gathering as a genuine political movement. I for one see it as nothing more than an opportunity to show the Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin/Michelle Maulkin/Ann Coulter/Michael Savage/Michele Bachman crowd that anything and everything Obama, or having to do with the federal government, is not a socialist plot for a new world order. THAT is insane.
The face of America, I believe, is not what we have seen at these angry Tea Party protests. It is more diverse and accommodating than the predominant white wealthy crowds that want to malign the office of the Presidency with images of Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia. For anyone to make such ugly and hackneyed associations is to clearly illustrate that either they haven’t a clue what was involved in these awful regimes, OR, they do and they strangely don’t have a problem with it.
As a victim of these tough economic times I too have a right to be angry and demanding a change to the status quo in Washington. But dressing up in colonial attire and pretending that many of our founding fathers were not misogynists slave holding promoters is a sign they lack a broad based education on American history. I have a wider view of the problems that face us than those who claim to want to restore an America where only their socio-economic group benefited. Ours has always been a culture, in name at least, that promoted the common good and opened its doors to anyone who was willing to advance society where more, not fewer, secured their future for them and their families.
I want the Rally to Restore Sanity to succeed tremendously so the world can see once again what they are used to seeing about America; where the Constitution speaks to more than just the white male aristocrats types who framed it over 200 years ago, but for every citizen who claims it as theirs today regardless of who they are and where they come from.