“So, would you wear an Obama Darth Vader shirt?” I ask Butch. No, because the Democrats are closer to their goals in terms of the number one issue: jobs and the economy. Really? I ask. With the unemployment rates we have?
Obama stopped the hemorrhaging: the unemployment rate went from 15% to 8%.
“Will you be going to the Democratic Convention?” I ask. Maybe. Possibly. As if they hadn’t considered it.
“What is your goal?” I ask.
To let the (Republican) delegates know that “the narrative needs to change.”
Being an English professor, I am interested in “narratives.” What do you mean by that, I ask in my nicest teacher’s voice.
Their narrative was that things really started going downhill after President Reagan’s election. Outsourcing needed to stop. People needed to pay their “fair share.” I asked if they thought the stimulus worked. Yes, it stopped the “hemorrhaging.” How about Solyndra? Oh, you mean the program Bush started? They laugh.
I ask about the 1%, whether they think Obama is in the 1%. They’re not sure. Maybe as far as money goes, but his “beliefs” are with the 99%. Same thing for Warren Buffett. He may be the second richest man in the world, but in terms of beliefs he is with the 99%. His ideas about heavy taxation and making the richest pay their “fair share” are very good.
“Well, why doesn’t Warren Buffett just give his money away?” I ask. There is nothing stopping him. He could alleviate some of the inequality.
The fellows indicate that that wouldn’t do much good.
“Hey,” says the younger, smaller guy, “I don’t care if he’s rich. I’d like to be rich. It’s the beliefs that matter. Tax policies need to be fair.”
Well, they are here for the 99%. Indeed, the Working Families Party has been instrumental in organizing the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.
We pass a group of about eight young Tampa police officers in their light-tan summer uniforms walking down the sidewalk. “Brown shirts,” says Butch. The really big guy in the front just looks over and says nothing.
When we get to where they’re staying, the Hilton Garden Inn, Butch asks me to consider what he had told me. I had only asked questions; he had ready explanation. He extends his hand to shake in a friendly manner.
I smile and shake hands, thinking of some of my friends in high school from Rochester whose biggest aspiration was to work for Kodak or General Motors.
I look on the Pennsylvania Working Families website and see that these guys probably enjoyed a nice send-off the previous night, with a “procession of cars with dog crates strapped to the top.” (I had seen my first “Dogs against Romney” t-shirt the previous night at a contra dance.)
But I wonder if these are the “delegates” who are going to be going to all the strip clubs that are being promoted by the media and whose billboards adorn about 99% of the taxi cabs waiting around.
As we drive down to the town where I’m staying with my friend I continue to talk to the Ron Paul guy, who should not have been put on this bus (despite the super efficiency with which the shuttle lady had told me the bus gets passengers to destinations). We have time because the GPS system can’t distinguish between “street” and “avenue.” He is friendly and nice. He loves bartending. He’s going to be covering the Ron Paul rally on Sunday.
We talk about the four from the Working Families contingent. He agrees with them on a lot of points. “But I don’t know about the fair share on taxes bit,” he says. Yes, I tell him; long ago I too lived on tips. Among the relative advantages and disadvantages the bartending lifestyle has to offer is the fact that the IRS can’t really keep a close eye on the cash flow.
I think about that…and the nice barbecue the four people from the Working Families contingent are going to be enjoying.