Private Diary of a Tea Bagger

Tax day came and with business slow thought turned to the rumored Tea Party protests.  Time and location in relation to my downtown LA work venue pointed to the Santa Monica pier, so I headed west in hope of spreading the Gospel of limited government against the current rise of creeping socialism that threatens to swallow the private sector whole and bequeath to our children a stinking turd of impossible debt.  (That metaphor needs work, but you get the idea.)

I arrived half an hour early, paid $6 to park, and found a cold, sparsely populated beach beset by gale-force winds roiling the ocean into choppy, sideways waves and drowning out the transmission of any sound.  Bleachers and a stage were set up in the parking lot, with a line of young slackers who did not look like tax protesters, and who indeed turned out to be skateboard enthusiasts queuing for a show and unaware of any tea party.

I ventured up to the antique pier itself and seeing no protesters took refuge from the sub-zero wind-chill factor in an overpriced fast-carnival-food stand, where I parted with $3.50 for a soft-serve ice cream cone, and I sat quietly trying to parse out the economic and demographic macro-assumptions implicated by myself being the only English-speaking patron, and the fact my fellow patrons (who did appear to be especially wealthy) were spending about $15 each to eat really mediocre fish and chips in the middle of the afternoon.

Some further pier reconnaissance finally spotted a large American flag rippled like a sail going across a traffic bridge.  I contemplated my death while crossing over PCH while a type-4 hurricane threatened to blow me out of my shoes.  There at the corner of Ocean and Colorado were about a hundred assorted protestors holding home made signs, surrounded by amused police and several microphone-wielding journalists.  One sign said to Bust Trusts Not Our Unions.  A t-shirt suggested George Bush for President.  Another signed asked, “How is Your 401k?”.  Another t-shirt promised a Ron Paul R-LOVE-LUTION.  Another sign made reference to the SEC and was held by the loudest protestor who was trying to link a corporate/government/SEC conspiracy to the ruination of his home in Iran (this probably would not have made sense even if the wind were not swallowing every other word).  A different woman raised her voice to no one in particular about illegal aliens.

I bought a $10 t-shirt with a neutral reference to the day, and scoured the crowd for other souvenirs.  One young man had a stack of No on 1A placards from the Jarvis group.  “Take them all, some guy gave them to me, I think he wants me to pass them out.”  I did my patriotic duty, though some people looked at me as if I were asking for spare change and the whole affair had that vibe of a party where you don’t know anyone.  Half the people did not know what 1A was, though when I described the sides taken by the teacher’s union and the Jarvis group they softened up and took a placard.

Down to my last poster, I retreated behind an ironically placed old cannon, and watched from a distance.  Considering the gravity of government spending, and the millions of folks who live here, an unorganized curbside vocalization of sometimes contradictory and mostly inaudible complaints to a captive audience of passing traffic was a bit disappointing.  Skateboarding was a bigger draw.

I felt vaguely guilty going back to my car and thinking that I do not fit in anywhere, and I should move to New Hampshire, or the Bahamas, or South Dakota, or possibly register as a Democrat so my vote will start to matter, or possibly go back to Orange County where the ice cream is cheaper.

About Ron St. John