Tea Party Rallies for Romney in San Francisco
If you thought that big political rally in San Francisco on Saturday must have have been a "Romney for President" event, then you are forgiven — because it sure looked that way.
But it actually was Tea Partiers from around the Bay Area who gathered on the Embarcadero for the biggest Tea Party of the 2012 election season so far. (That's right — they're ba-a-a-a-a-ack, demanding fiscal responsibility and smaller government, and not letting the mainstream media's lies silence the debate.)
And although early in the campaign Mitt Romney was not at first the Tea Party favorite, they're now rallying to his side, if Saturday's event was any indication.
"Hear us shout! Vote Obama out!" was the rallying cry of the day. And that meant only one thing: Vote Romney like your life depended on it. The event's official motto was "NObama 2012," and after a bruising primary season, there's only one NObama left to vote for: Romney.
True, there was a small contingent of Ron Paulians at the San Francisco rally, but they were overwhelmed by the nearly universal Romney support. I have no doubt that among the true hardcore conservatives in the crowd, that support was more pragmatic than ideological; but contrasted against free-spending big-government Obama, even a moderate conservative like Romney seems like a messiah by comparison. And just about everyone at the rally realized that.
Romneysiacs plied the crowd with Romney stickers — and almost everyone took them up on the offer. By the end of the day, the place looked like a Romney rally.
The Tea Party is good at math, and there's one very simple equation they've solved:
- America will go bankrupt unless spending is reined in and the size of government is reduced;
- Obama is charting the exact opposite financial course from what needs to happen;
- Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for president, whether or not he was everybody's first choice;
QED, we must support Romney if we want to save the country.
Meghan McCain staffed the Romney table. (No, not really, but she sure was a lookalike.) The guy on the right was saying, "Romney is no milquetoast — he will crush all opposition with his mighty claws, like so!" Or something like that.
About 600 people showed up; one of them was "Larry in SF," who has also posted a photo essay about the rally on his Fund47 blog, including hi-res crowd shots to verify the attendance numbers. Larry has kindly consented to the use of a few of his photos (as credited) in this report; if you like them, check out his full photo essay here.
Even the pooches planned to vote for Romney. And why not? No voter ID is required. Just walk into any polling place and bark, "Woof! My name is woof! Eric Holder woof! Give me my woof! ballot!" Affix a pawprint as a signature, and you're good to go!
Now, I have no illusions that Romney has much of a chance in California: in 2008, Obama beat McCain 61%-37%, and California is considered one of the Democrats' safest states. But nationwide the race is still close, and if Californian libertarians and conservatives are already rallying behind Romney, then I'm quite sure the same thing will happen in swing states, despite the spinmeisters' and the media's best attempts to foment dissatisfaction and discord in the Republican ranks.
They say all trends start in California, so let the trend of Romney Realism sweep the nation!
The irrepressible Sally Zelikovsky, head honcho of the San Francisco Tea Party (a.k.a. Bay Area Patriots) brought together a coalition of local Tea Party groups for the event, and energized the crowd between speakers.
What were my favorite signs of the day? Here are a few:
"(The) Politics of envy lead to SOCIALISM." This is the key meta-message that we must not be afraid to shout at every opportunity.
A classic from the early days of the Tea Party, but it rings true eternally.
Why pussyfoot around? Sometimes bluntness drives home the point in a way that nuance can never do.
The new "Three Stooges" film had just opened nationwide, so this spoof rendition was particularly au courant. Note the clever detail: Instead of saying "American Voters present The Three Stooges," the sign actually says "American People resent The Three Stooges." Zing!
Sally introduced "The Deficettes," a crowd-pleasing Rockettes parody troupe who highlight the jaw-dropping size of our national deficit with a humorous dance routine.
Unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement, the crowd neither burned nor stepped on the flag, but instead waved it enthusiastically. This was a little disorienting for someone like me, who generally only witnesses flag abuse at political events.
Speaking of Occupy: Where were they on Saturday? Why did they let the Tea Party "occupy" San Francisco unopposed?
Strangely, there was no organized counter-protest. Despite the fact OccupySF was holding their all-hands-on-deck "General Assembly" just two blocks away at the exact same time as the Tea Party event, and despite the fact that local left-leaning media tried its best to goad Occupy into a counter-protest, practically no Occupiers showed up at all, and the few who did were not coordinated. Why is this?
I have several possible theories. One is that Occupy likes to control the narrative of any event they attend, and don't want to be present in any situation where they don't have Total Narrative Domination. Alternately, they don't even want to acknowledge the Tea Party's existence, because to do so would only grant more publicity to their ideological rivals. And the third theory is more intriguing, and gibes with my earlier SF Tea Party/Occupy report "Tea Party and OWS Protest Side-By-Side Against Obama in San Francisco": that the Occupy crowd around here has a secret affinity for the Tea Party that they may not even want to admit to themselves. Both groups oppose president Obama (one from the left, and one from the right, but with some overlap, such as opposition to growing police state tactics); and one half of Occupy's schizoid socialist/anarchist split personality agrees with the Tea Party's opposition to government intrusion into our private lives. In truth, the anarchists are a better ideological fit with the Tea Party than they are with the socialists, whether they consciously realize it or not; but this may help explain why there would be little enthusiasm among the Occupiers for counter-protesting a group whose positions they don't entirely disagree with.
Anyway, there were a few wildcat counter-protesters, which we'll look at here.
Near the beginning of the rally, a lone leftie jumped up and started shouting something vituperative in front of the stage, but the small contingent of SF cops assigned to monitor the rally swiftly moved in and explained to the guy that the Tea Party had a legal permit for the rally, and as a result he had no right to disrupt it, since he lacked a permit. He was quickly escorted away and the disruption ended. As you can see in the photo above, the Tea Party "Infiltrator Identification Squad," which was so effective at outing hoaxsters during 2010 rallies, was back in action; but aside from this one incident, they didn't have much use for their trademark pink signs.
Next up was this Occupier with a sign advertising their upcoming planned invasion of the Wells Fargo shareholders' meeting, but after exchanging too many heated words with attendees, he too was told to tone it down. And so he went over and joined up with...
...some newly arrived potheads, who perhaps showed up looking for some Libertarian love at the rally; but they didn't seem to have any takers (or tokers, for that matter).
Blogger "John" of "The City Square" published his own report about Saturday's Tea Party event, and included these photos of the front and back of a sign held by a camera-shy and angry Occupy infiltrator who wanted his own agenda represented at the rally. Taken out of an "Occupy Wall Street" context, his messages (which feel perfectly normal within an Occupy political milieu) are suddenly revealed to be completely absurd and incomprehensible out in the open air.
The most brazen Occupier walked around handing out what I generally dub "kook manifestos"; but most of the Tea Partiers he approached, like the guy in the hat, wouldn't even give him the time of day. (For which the kook gave them a stern lecture.)
Every now and then someone made the mistake of accepting one of his flyers — but that only led to more confusion, as they vainly tried to decipher his worldview.
One infiltrator passed completely unnoticed in the crowd; this guy is a far-left activist who has been a regular at Bay Area communist and anti-war events for at least ten years (and probably a lot longer than that), but no one there (except me) recognized him; and since all he did was politely and silently stroll around snapping pictures, I guess he was welcome anyway. Maybe if he spends enough time at Tea Parties and sees that they're not hate-fests after all, then we can take one more step on that road to reconciliation.
But mostly the would-be handful of counter-protesters just hovered hesitantly on the periphery, aghast at the horror show of patriotism and fiscal austerity they were witnessing.
More scenes from the rally:
A brilliant riff on last year's Internet meme, "Don't taze me, bro!"
A hundred years from now, cultural anthropologists would still be able to identify the precise day this photo was taken; the "Hunger Games" pin and the freshly confident "Romney" sticker pinpoint the moment in history almost exactly.
Another unmistakable riff on a specific moment in history: The hundredth anniversary of the Titanic disaster is given a new political update: "Obama — our Titanic."
The KSFO radio booth had startlingly realistic cardboard cutouts of Sarah Palin and Ronald Reagan.
The Ron Paul people tried to put on a brave face, but the momentum was very clearly not on their side anymore. At least they had a presence, however; there wasn't even a hint of anything involving the word "Gingrich" anywhere at the rally.
Tea Partiers love them some "NObama 2012" finger-wagging foam fingers. If you want to order some of your own, head on over to the sidebar of the SF Tea Party site.
This acronymization of the "Swindlera" scandal wasn't entirely successful on a syntactical level, but gets an "A" for effort nonetheless.
Brutal, to the point, and correct. Note the presence of the Breitbart icon.
This guy is by now a regular at all Tea Party events, but his clever get-up never fails to amuse.
While the event was, admittedly, almost as monochromatic as an Occupy rally, there were some TPOCs (Tea Partiers of Color) on hand, including one guy opposed to Obama's hypocrisy and Big Brother-esque tactics.
Plenty of "youth" as well. The flag in the boot is a nice touch.
The messages ranged from the plain-spoken and ultra-concise...
...to the wordy and punctuation-challenged. But tell us how you really feel.
Sometimes a sign needs two sides...
...to convey the full message.
One hopes — prays — that his kid helped him make the sign.
In case it's not clear: the caduceus transforms into a screw.
From Obama's perspective, Tea Partiers show a distressingly thorough familiarity with Saul Alinsky's teachings.
My nominee for...well, let's just say strangest sign of the day.
Calls for NObama finger-wagging got the crowd excited every time.
Everything you need to know.
Everything else you need to know.
If one single sign summed up the whole rally, this is it.