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The PJ Tatler

by
Sarah Hoyt

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August 15, 2012 - 6:44 am

An account of  Representative Ryan’s visit to Lakewood, Colorado.

I live about an hour and a half from Lakewood Colorado but I’d never gone there.  Never thought I would either.  It’s a small town on the other side of Denver and we never had a reason to visit.

Even when I heard Paul Ryan would be there, I thought “uh.  I wish” but it seemed far too much trouble.  However, the child who four years ago was so-so about politics said we were going.  Or rather, he was driving out.  And since no other family member could go, I was nominated to keep him awake.

We left at five thirty in the morning because doors opened at nine, and we were sure in our hearts if we got there after seven am we wouldn’t get in.  Also, neither of us wanted to brave Denver rush hour traffic.

As it turned out, when we got there, there were only about fifty people in line ahead of us.  Because this campaign we don’t know where we stand – or at least we know the polls are doctored and even things like Intrade feel like they could be manipulated – I felt a little worried.  What if no one came?  I should add that despite my being plugged into all political sources, I only heard of this rally through a friend and then later through an acquaintance.  So I fretted that perhaps not enough people had heard of it?  Perhaps…  They’d gotten lost in the little maze of streets around the venue.  Perhaps…

                                                                                                                 the very front of the line ahead of us

By nine the line had doubled, maybe.  But by ten thirty, it was going around two sides of the high school and I started feeling better, if not exactly happy yet.

                                                                                                                           the line turns the corner

By nine the line had doubled, maybe.  But by ten thirty, it was going around two sides of the high school and I started feeling better, if not exactly happy yet.

I want to say the line was pure tea party, but tea party seems to be grayer.  While early arrivals tended to be over fifty, as the line grew, they started being outweighed by thirty somethings (many with small kids in tow) and even young men and women of late highschool and early college age.  (I wish I could have got better pictures, but the theme of the day was equipment failure, and the first one was our better camera, leaving us only with the low-res one which does neither panoramic nor good close ups.  A rival to Zombie I’ll never be.)

But in a way the line WAS pure tea party.  The crowd waited patiently – even though they’d forgotten porta potties and two and a half hours wait in line tested our bladders.  (My son said “the other side does organization.  We do freedom.”  About right.

Everyone was friendly if sometimes reserved.  Volunteers were working the line getting people signed up for the campaign and for voting and for various projects.  A gentleman stopped by us and asked if I might be a lawyer.  He explained, somewhat embarrassed “We think we might need them after the election.”  I said, “Of course.  If we don’t win big enough.”  A lot of people ducked away from television cameras, and gave the explanation “my job.”  Someone said “That’s absurd, this is a fre country.”  But we all knew that some people in some situations are freer than others.  Four years ago, while I was dependent on money from NYC publishers I’d have been hiding too.  My remaining publisher – Baen Books – believes in the first amendment though, and the rest of my money is from indie publishing.  BUT I’m aware that what has changed for me hasn’t for a lot of other people.

In what eventually became an overflowing parking lot of enthusiastic Romney supporters, I saw exactly one car with a Romney bumpersticker.  The discussion in line raged over whether to get a bumpersticker or a yard sign, and how bad things could get when you did (from stolen yard signs to vandalized cars and egged houses.)  We all agreed this must stop, but on the other hand, the economy is bad and who is going to risk their property?  (Or their kids and pets?)

The people around me seemed to be more libertarian-conservative than social-conservative.  A young man walked by saying something about regulating drugs and we ignored him, then I realized he was saying “regulating drugs as we do alcohol” – i.e. minimal, age related regulation – and I made him come back and give me a flyer.  THEN other people around me perked up.  It’s an interesting idea, though I haven’t yet checked out the group, but they should perhaps NOT sell it with the word “regulation” of which we’ve all had too much.

Note that none of the people around me were what I’d call “hard conservatives.”  We differed on various points including whether or not we’re overpopulated, but we all agreed we’re going to be broke, if that’s not stopped.  And most of us worried about children and grandchildren.

At ten thirty an airplane started circling, towing a sign that said “Hey girl, chose me, lose choice -P. Ryan” – which apparently was all the opposition could muster.  It was met with snorts of derision.  The lady ahead of me said “I want government out of my bedroom in all senses.”  The one next to me said “I don’t need a sugar daddy to buy me contraceptives.”  My own reaction was “do they think we’re infants?  HOW DARE THEY think they can buy women with women’s own money?”

The crowd was delightful and well- informed, and most had real jobs and were still employed, even in this economy.  (Real jobs as to my artsy-bum lifestyle, of course.)  As far as I could tell, I’d come from the farthest away.

We were finally allowed in and after a brief scramble to the bathroom, the room started filling and filling and filling.  We kept expecting the fire marshal to call for an halt, but it seemed that they let it go to standing room early, and then some – as people stood in the hall outside to listen.

Note that none of the people around me were what I’d call “hard conservatives.”  We differed on various points including whether or not we’re overpopulated, but we all agreed we’re going to be broke, if that’s not stopped.  And most of us worried about children and grandchildren.

At ten thirty an airplane started circling, towing a sign that said “Hey girl, chose me, lose choice -P. Ryan” – which apparently was all the opposition could muster.  It was met with snorts of derision.  The lady ahead of me said “I want government out of my bedroom in all senses.”  The one next to me said “I don’t need a sugar daddy to buy me contraceptives.”  My own reaction was “do they think we’re infants?  HOW DARE THEY think they can buy women with women’s own money?”

The crowd was delightful and well- informed, and most had real jobs and were still employed, even in this economy.  (Real jobs as to my artsy-bum lifestyle, of course.)  As far as I could tell, I’d come from the farthest away.

We were finally allowed in and after a brief scramble to the bathroom, the room started filling and filling and filling.  We kept expecting the fire marshal to call for an halt, but it seemed that they let it go to standing room early, and then some – as people stood in the hall outside to listen.

                                           my one working camera was truly atrocious, however this shows the packing.  The floor was also standing-room only. 

There were some local-candidate speakers to warm up the crowd, and I am afraid I missed a lot of it, being slightly mid-range deaf and in a crowded room.  Mostly I missed the names of the speakers – though I’m sure they’re online somewhere.

The crowd was generally well-behaved, but after the other speakers and before Ryan, a chant of Paul Ryan and then Romney started.  Also, at one point some young men up in the overflow space under the rafters sang God Bless America – but not when speakers were talking.

Finally a young lady who’d just graduated from Lakewood Highschool (and who was Student Body President in her senior year) and is now working for the Romney campaign, introduced Paul Ryan.

He presents in person JUST like on TV.  I have long been an admirer of Governor Palin, but Ryan seems more comfortable in his own skin.  Perhaps more used to the limelight.

I’d like to say his speech was pure campaign stuff, and perhaps it was.  He talked about camping in Colorado and climbing all of our fourteeners.  Having friends who do this, this told me a lot about his character.  That kind of climb requires determination and fortitude in face of adversity, and most of all self discipline.  It impressed me, as it might not impress non-locals.

Then he talked policy.  And while it was campaign speech stuff, it was GOOD campaign speech stuff, and the sort of things, too, that sort of tells us where the candidates’ minds are.

The people who paid for the plane outside would be shocked to hear no social issues were mentioned.  The overriding themes of the speech were the need to get our fiscal house in order, so that there IS a tomorrow and how people should be free from government.

Being somewhat of a constitutional fundamentalist (to paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, the Earth and the sky shall pass away before an iota passes from the constitution.) and having just written a book that could be called a big wet kiss to my adopted country, I was delighted by Ryan’s emphasis on constitutional principles and also a little spooked, as I haven’t YET let anyone but close friends and my publisher read that book which is scheduled for March next year, but it seemed like Ryan had read it.  (You people at Baen fess up.  Which of you knows Ryan? – I’m joking, of course, it’s rather that both Ryan and I read from the same text.)

Highlights, quoted as closely as I could hear – remember, mid range hearing loss – were: “take back this great country”, “President Obama inherited a tough situation.  Here’s the problem.  He made it worse.”  A promise to create 12 million jobs in four years.  “We’ll use our own energy because we have it” (I think he named every energy form known to man, too.  I jotted down gas, coal, nuclear, solar.  I think nuclear is a CLEAR pandering to Glenn Reynolds of instapundit.  Joking again.  But nuclear IS clean and safe, as Glenn tells us.)  “Cap and trade is designed to make energy expensive.”  “We will approve the Keystone Pipeline.”  “We must stop spending money we just don’t have.”  “Our rights come from nature and God, not government.”  (And for those resenting the mention of God, accept the mention of nature, and the fact he’s harking back to the declaration of independence.  The last part is undeniably true.  The rights of free citizens should never be at the mercy of government.”  “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the government doesn’t define what happiness is.  You do.”  “Our job is to get barriers out of the way” “If you have a small business, you DID build that.”  “We want more of you to be successful.”  “We’re going to lead, not blame others.  We’ll take responsibility.”  “We’re not going to replace our founding principles, we’re going to reapply them.”  “We will not let them divide us.”  “It is not too late to turn this country around.”

There was ONE bit of heckling where someone said “Look, no teleprompter.”  Positive heckling.  Ryan responded and the crowd laughed, but I have NO idea what he said.  (It might be clearer in audio below.)

Then Representative Ryan came down from the podium and made his way around the crowd, hugging everyone he could reach and posing for pictures with any of the people on the front two rows who wanted them.  (Like an idiot, I’d chosen the THIRD row, to get a better view.)  I know all politicians kiss babies, and not so babies, but he was relaxed, slow, and gave the impression he’d rather be there with us than anywhere at all.

Ryan connects to people

When he left the crowd left in an orderly manner and much more quickly than I expected.

Because the theme of the day was mechanical failure, kid and I found we’d left the lights on and our battery had died out.  In 97 degree weather not one but TWO sets of strangers stopped to help.  (They failed and Triple A had to deal with it because our alarm apparently thought we were stealing our own car.  However, they offered.  In fact, at the end while we sat waiting for Triple A some very young and nice campaign workers came over, offering to help.  Since they all drove compacts I have no idea what they thought they could do – but it was nice to ask.)

At the very end, I left mulling over the motto painted on the gym wall – presumably for home team cheerleaders: “be loud, be proud, be positive.”

Not all of us can do it, but when we can, that is exactly what we should do.  That is how we’ll reclaim our freedom, bit by bit.  Let them know we exist, we’re not afraid, we’re not ashamed, and we’re not idiots.  And let others who feel isolated know they’re not alone.

It’s time to start taking the country back and clawing our way to becoming a sovereign people once more.

Ryan Speech Audio, hopefully marginally clearer than my ears — though again, this is the day of equipment failure.

Sarah Hoyt lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons and too many cats. She has published Darkship Thieves and 16 other novels, and over 100 short stories. Writing non-fiction is a new, daunting endeavor. For more on Sarah and samples of her writing, look around at Sarah A. Hoyt.com or check out her writing and life blog at According to Hoyt.com.
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