In case you’re wondering if I popped over to Hudson Valley Community College yesterday for President Obama’s appearance, the answer is, yes, I did, though not really for Obama but more for the protesters that I expected to greet him outside.
And sure enough, there they were, lining Vandenburgh Avenue alongside the campus, if not in the thousands that I had expected, at least in the high hundreds, waving their “Don’t Tread On Me” coiled-snake flags, which seem to have become the symbol of the people I call the Angry Ones.
And boy, are they angry, even if it’s not always obvious what they’re angry about.
A truculent fellow near the corner of Williams Road held the most complete and detailed sign, in case I was looking for guidance. It said, “Sick of your lies, sick of your taxes, sick of your stealing, sick of your cheating, sick of your double-dealing, sick of your big government, sick of your B.S.”
He was Bill Lee, age 64, from near Pittsfield, Mass. I told him I agreed with most of his complaints, and I asked him when he had first come out to protest these various affronts to his dignity.
When he said it was in April of this year I almost fainted dead away. It meant he had lived through the Vietnam War, through Watergate, through the Iran-Contra scandal, through the Weapons of Mass Destruction hoax, and just now, in the first months of the Obama administration, he finally decided to take to the streets.
“What took you so long?” I asked him.
“I just got fed up,” he said.
Just now! When Barack Obama proposed to reform health care! It gives you an idea of what’s going on in this country.
I talked to him about television news, and he said, “Fox is the only one giving us the straight scoop. The others are so far left it’s not even funny.”
A lot of them either held signs or said in conversation they were against socialism, which is the new buzzword among the Angry Ones, having displaced liberalism.
A fellow wearing an NRA cap who identified himself as the chairman of the Conservative Party in Red Hook, Dutchess County, told me, when I asked him why he was there, “I like freedom, not socialism,” which was pretty standard.
I asked another guy what he understood socialism to be, and the best he could come up with, even with a certain amount of prodding, was, “a legal philosophy that hurts human beings.” So you don’t get a lot of sophisticated analysis out of them.
Most of the folks I talked to allowed they are regular listeners to conservative talk radio and regular viewers of Fox Propaganda.
When I asked the Conservative chairman, Bill Mansfield, who his favorite is on radio or television, he said, “It’s a toss-up between Glenn Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity.”
So they’re all against socialism, that’s clear, and they’re all for freedom, which as I have noted before, means mostly owning guns and not paying taxes.
But it’s funny how amorphous their concept of socialism is. For example, I asked an NRA guy who was standing with Mansfield where he works and he told me the DOT, meaning the state Department of Transportation.
Holy Toledo! I said. That socialist outfit? You’ve got to be kidding. They take my hard-earned money from me and use it to build roads for everyone, including for poor people who don’t pay taxes at all and even for illegal immigrants, as far as that goes. And you work for them? What’s your name?
I was going to report him to Fox Propaganda to see if they would out him, but he wouldn’t tell me, only that he lives in Watervliet. Apparently he had skipped work for the day so he could come out to protest socialism, and he didn’t want the DOT to know!
And what about socialist schools? I demanded, now that I was onto him.
Same thing, they take my hard-earned money and use it to teach all children equally, at least in theory, even the children of poor people, who contribute nothing. I myself don’t have children in school any more, and I still have to keep paying. And the richer you are, the more you pay.
But no, that’s different, they say. That’s local, or that’s state, so it’s OK. Federal is what’s bad.
One woman, Lynn Tillson of Utica, who told me her position was, “No more taxes, no more spending,” even went so far as to say that public health insurance would be OK if it were done by the state rather than by the federal government.
“The federal government has limited powers; it’s the states that have powers,” she said, voicing another theme common to the angry ones.
So it’s a weird ad hoc kind of political philosophy they have, cobbled together out of a bunch of buzzwords they pick up from Glenn Beck and his confreres. Federal socialism is bad; state and local socialism is fine, when you push them into a corner, though of course they don’t volunteer that, since I’m not sure they thought of it before.
All they knew for sure is that they’re angry. Something is wrong in this country, and the nearest they can come to figuring out what it is, is to say “government.”
When you try to get particular, when you try to determine why a tax-supported highway system or school system is OK but a tax-supported health-care system is not OK, things get murky, and before a guy can think it through, it’s time to get back to work at the DOT — spending our tax money on egalitarian roads!
I make fun of them, but let’s face it, they’re a national force. More than a national force, they’re a cultural tidal wave.
The few libertarians among them are different to the extent of endeavoring to be consistent. They were against big bad government under President Bush as much as they’re against it under Obama.
One of them, Kevin McCashion of Colonie, of the New York Libertarian Council, told me, “People are manipulated by Hannity and Beck,” which I thought was interesting, and also, “Obama is a tool of Wall Street just like Bush was a tool of Haliburton.”
More interesting yet, he said he agreed with me on the need to monitor Family Court, for anyone who is concerned about the intrusion of government into people’s lives, and he hopes to lead his fellow libertarians in doing that.
I will certainly take them more seriously if they really do it and don’t just declaim against government in the abstract, like the mindless Foxheads. Boy, they are a depressing bunch.