/ 18 October 2010

Tea Party: ‘Anyone but Obama’

Tea Party: 'anyone But Obama'

What gets a Tea Party activist going? A good way of answering that is to browse the stalls at a Tea Party rally, as I did in Richmond, Virginia.

Let’s start with this: they very much like their guns. Stickers were being handed out saying: “Guns save lives” — an interesting twist on machines designed to kill.

One stall was occupied by the Gun Owners of America, a lobby group online magazine Slate describes as “well to the right of the National Rifle Association” — which many of us would have assumed impossible.

They like the 50 individual states and their rights and they don’t like the federal government. The Tea Party’s rattlesnake flag was popular with 18th-century revolutionaries against British rule, its 13 coils representing the then 13 colonies. These days the enemy is the government in Washington, DC.

Then, naturally, they like Sarah Palin. A stallholder selling American football jerseys emblazoned with politicians’ names said Palin was the runaway bestseller.

The stall also indicated what the party faithful don’t like: Barack Obama. The second top-seller was a shirt saying: “Anyone but Obama.”

They don’t like the mainstream media. A stall run by the Media Research Centre, a right-wing ­monitoring institute, was handing out placards saying: “Don’t trust the liberal media.”

At a bookstall, copies were sold out of a new biography of George Washington, suggesting they like him, as well as volumes by other favourites including David Limbaugh (talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s brother).

The most popular book, however, was The Five Thousand Year Leap, a 19 81 work by a crusader against the Red Menace called Cleon Skousen.

Glenn Beck put the book, which argues that the United States constitution was the inspiration of God, at the top of his reading list for his “9/12” (nine principles, 12 values) groups, sending sales skyrocketing. —