Since I've been remiss about seeing this Republican
circle-jerk, I decided to go uptown after work and check out the convention.
I heard about this big rally in the East Meadow in Central Park so I went
to give it a look -- only I guess it wasn't so big, cuz I took a nice long
walk through the Park and didn't see anything. But I did see a crazy old
dude taking care of a family of cats! That was cool. After that, I headed
on down to Midtown to see the convention site itself.
When I got there I was in shock. Midtown has never been that empty, not on its best days. I hate the crowds up there, so I was almost grateful - until I realized the cause for this sudden breathing room. They had an incredible security blanket on the area -- you couldn't get to within two blocks of Madison Square Garden, from any direction. The cops kept on redirecting me; No matter where I went, cops told me I couldn't cross there, I had to go a block up. It was ridiculous, and I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I was driving.
Apparently I'm the only one who resents how much police protection these out-of-towners got -- I guess because they're politicians or politically-connected, they rate SO MUCH MORE than people who actually live and work there. No one is insulted by this, which blows my mind. But whatever -- they cleared out the pooping pigeons and the homeless people for the sake of Republicans, not for the sake of New Yorkers. I guess no one else minds that the government thinks less of New Yorkers than they do of the rich people visiting New York. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised or bothered by it, since no else is. (But I am.)
There were no big protests that I saw. You had a few hippie-types holding up signs here and there, but they'd just get moved along by the cops. The only major thing I saw was when a big line of joggers, 30 or 40 of them, started running around with t-shirts saying "Runners Against Bush" and chanting "Hey-hey, Ho-Ho Double-You Has Got To Go!" People just kinda smiled and let them through. If there were any real troublemakers or anarchists there, they must've been arrested the day before, because it was all pretty safe and boring.
Somehow I ended up bleeding into a group of old Republican ladies while I was crossing a street. I just kinda stuck with them, looking for somewhere to go, and I actually got through the cordon! The cops must've seen them before and assumed I was with them, because they just waved us on by. I was behind the police line -- Holy Shit! There I was, surrounded by The Enemy. To survive, I had to blend in, so I tried to look stuffy and uptight while I wandered around. It was crazy -- I saw people covered in pro-Republican buttons, carrying around bottles of "W brand ketchup"(wtf?). There was a pretty broad age range, I saw people in their late teens and people who were post-retirement age. The crowd was lily-white, though -- I was surrounded by a few hundred of them and I saw one Asian woman and one old black guy. There were a couple of guys there in yarmulkes, which really shocked me. Since GOPers keep talking about making American society work under "Christian values", you'd think Jews would be on the front lines against them. But Republicans are strong supporters of Israel, constantly voting to send money and weapons over there. I guess that trumps the potential oppression Jews would face in America, if the GOP actually got its way.
There's something very creepy about the homogenity of these Republicans. They were all wearing the same clothes and kinda looked the same, too. Most of the guys had a blue blazer and/or a checkered shirt. The ones who didn't have that look dressed like those yuppies who go to hip bars on the West Side. You know the type: Powder-blue shirts, cream-colored khakis, brown shoes, all with the same big watch and short haircut. Oh, but there's always a couple who have an earring, to show they're "wild". Yawn.
It's almost communist, the way they insist on across-the-board conformity. I was wearing a grey Ben Sherman polo shirt and green slacks, and they were giving me funny looks. And there was this vibe in the crowd... I dunno how to describe it. Smug? Haughty? Maybe there's a word that combines both. All I know is, there was this incredible sense of self-satisfaction. There were signs all over the place talking about which Committee handled what, too. They were like the old Soviet Politburo, creating this mega-bureaucracy to manage what's essentially supposed to be a party. Stalin would've been proud.
Yeah, "communist" is the only word for the behavior I saw at the convention, which is funny when you think of how right-wing the GOP is. But I guess a wingnut's a wingnut. Between their need to have everyone look the same, their insistence on claiming the moral high ground at all times, the focus on militarism and the utopian pie-in-the-sky dreams, it was very... communist.
The communists claimed their oppression of artists and the media was moral because it was done "in the name of the workers", the conservatives claim their oppression of artists and the media is being done "in the name of Christian values".
Communists demanded a huge, powerful military "to defend against capitalist incursion", conservatives focus on a huge, powerful military "to defend against terrorism".
Communists believed a state-run economy with output strictly regulated would make us all FREE and HAPPY. Conservatives say a global free market with no government regulation will make us all FREE and HAPPY!
And like I said before, both insist on conformity in personal appearance. Now it kinda makes sense why a couple of famous radical communists became right-wing Republicans. It's pretty much the same bullshit.
I'll give them this much, though: Republican women are *VERY* well put-together. Every single one of them looked they were fresh out of the beauty salon. Perfect makeup, stylish and freshly-cut hair, smart professional outfits. I have to admit, it was kinda hot being surrounded by attractive, well-dressed women of every age, shape and size. I was considering getting a "W: Four More Years" pin and trying to hook up, when I saw I was headed toward the Garden. Did I have a shot at getting in? Did I have the guts to enter the belly of the beast? They were checking IDs very closely, and I didn't have any credentials. Everyone was wearing their ID cards around their necks, in plain sight. I didn't have any, so I got out of line and walked away. A cop finally noticed I wasn't wearing a pass, so he asked me how I got back here. I played dumb and said, "Got back where? I'm just trying to cross the street here!" A couple more cops surrounded me, then escorted me back to the security barriers.
So that was my first experience with a political convention, and it was quite a revelation.
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