I was awake by nine a.m., which is a rarity; dressed and out the door by 9:30. It was the day that Sarah Palin's Tea Party was coming to the Boston Common, conveniently right across the street. My experiences in Boston led me to believe there wouldn't be much more than an ironic turnout but I was gravely mistaken. Not counting those “on tour,” there were hundreds upon hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people legitimately vested in Tea Party ideology.
I was with a small group of friends, which put us at a disadvantage when it came to weaving through the throngs of people before us. I passed men and women of all ages and builds, some with young children atop their shoulders sporting t-shirts with slogans like “I don't deserve to pay this debt when I grow up.” The adults were bedazzled in pins of all shapes and sizes in support of right wing causes like NO TAXES. I saw a large man wearing a shirt that read, “The best form of homeland security is the 2nd Amendment.”
Despite my efforts to get up early, the Tea Party was well under way by the time we were able to find a decent place to station ourselves. I was not able to catch the names anyone speaking, but the man I saw first was addressing claims that the Tea Party was a racist terrorist organization. In an attempt to alleviate themselves of these charges, they brought Lloyd Marcus on stage. Marcus, a self-declared “black conservative,” was dressed in a leather cowboy hat and boots, a black vest and a white shirt. He had apparently written the theme song for the cross-country rally. As he began to sing, six or seven white women began to clap their hands and hold them to the sky as if this was Sunday service at a black Baptist church. I was witnessing a scene that could easily be construed as a minstrel show. Before leaving the stage, Marcus teased the crowd by calling them “racist hate mongers,” then giggling and saying, “just kidding.” Having cleansed themselves of any racist connotations, the white men and women took center stage again.
The next man began his rant by joking about how,“ Marcus has been trying to teach [him] to clap in rhythm for years, but [he] just couldn't seem to get it.” Here was where they shifted topic from nullifying accusations against the Tea Party to actual Tea Party politics. This man started off by remarking that last week Barack Obama bowed to the President of China. A roar of outraged boos erupted from the crowd.
At this point, a man who I assumed was an oil baron approached me and told me he was glad to finally see some level-headed youths. This caught the attention of a rippling ex-marine not far in front of us, who needed to show the tattoos he had “earned” protecting our nation. He then started talking about his window washing business, produced business cards, handed them out to everyone within a 100 foot radius and urged us all to spread word that he was one of few patriotic window washers left.
Bored with the oil guy and his 10-gallon hat, I scanned the crowd. People were brandishing huge signs that ranged from “CAPITALISM WORK$” to “THE TEA PARTY IS NOT RACEIST” to “DON'T TREAD ON ME” to “FREE LIL WAYNE.” I also saw my roommate off in the far distance with a huge “GREEN COALITION OF GAY LOGGERS FOR JESUS” sign. He later told me several people told him he was going “straight to hell.”
The stage caught my attention once again as a poet began to read a poem she wrote entitled, “Freedom isn't free.” It was about the price we need to pay as American citizens in order to enjoy the pursuit of happiness and all that jazz. She ended by yelling about eliminating taxes. Following her was a similar looking white woman singing a slightly altered version of the poem with an insane level of energy. “Freedom isn't free” rang throughout the Boston common. We were then treated to the harrowing tale of the first soldier to die in our current war as told by his mother.
Next was the nasally high-pitched grating voice we had all come to see. Palin took to the stage gunning, hooting and hollering about how if anyone knew how to throw a Tea Party it was Boston. She yelled about taxes, war, big government, “the lamestream media,” money, socialists, the evils of socialism and about stopping the socialists. I was in and out of conversations with the strange people around me; next thing I knew there was a five-minute-long chant of “Drill baby, drill!” Palin informed us that the best solution to the energy crisis was to take advantage of “What God has given us.”
As I was walking away, I was treated to a reworking of Queen's famous anthem “We are the Champions” that had been altered to “We are the Patriots, you are the Soviets.”