In case you missed it last night, here's the video that I took of the teabaggers, delightfully edited by Kelly O:
I was too busy yesterday to include my thoughts on the teabaggers and so, briefly, here they are/ As our very own resident boy genius Anthony Hecht pointed out to me: They are exactly like the Democratic Party circa 2002, when the Free Mumia people marched with the Green Party people who marched with every single cause and sub-cause that even began to resemble a liberal cause. They don't have any sort of focus, and that's because there's no central voice. The tea party gave everyone a central cause to rally behind ("We hate taxes and the bailout!") and it really gave the loons a cause to come out ("We hate the black guy in office!"), but the cause was way too amorphous to give the people one voice. It was just a crowd of people shouting for their own pet cause. You can't win elections that way.
The people who enraged me were the people with signs that said, effectively, "Keep the government out of our lives," but then wore t-shirts about banning gay marriage. None of these people would talk to me on camera (do they realize they're bigots, I wonder?) and they weren't really willing to argue the point, either. Government can do anything it wants—protect us, interfere in the lives of people we don't like—as long as it doesn't cost them anything and it doesn't get into their own personal affairs.
Not many of the people at the party were really aware of what they were protesting. Of course, almost none of the people who showed up to argue with the protesters knew what they were talking about, either.
But I did talk to some reasonable people who were, honestly, just scared. I don't think they were scared by "that socialist Kenyan" or anything like that. I think they were scared about the future and the economy. They're people in their late twenties and thirties who have seen, basically, nothing but prosperity their whole lives and who now are looking at a drastically different America than the one they've lived in up until now.
I asked one guy who claimed he wasn't a Republican why he didn't march against the Iraq War or any of Bush's massive spending increases. "I don't know," he said. "I guess I wasn't paying attention. I wish I would have." I think guys like that—people who are genuinely scared and have just noticed the deficit—are a tiny minority of the tea party crowd, but they're the most reasonable to me. I think it's the Democrats' job to win these people—people who have no excuse for not knowing about things like the deficit before now, but who actually do care, now that it affects them—to our side. After seeing these lunatics with their pitchforks and their blatantly racist signs (seriously: This whole birth certificate thing wouldn't be an issue if our president wasn't brown), it wouldn't be that hard to reason with them. The mistake the Republican Party made in 2002 was it stopped reaching out; party leaders assumed they'd be in power forever and stopped trying to earn people's respect. We can't afford to make that mistake now.