“USA!!! USA!!!” they chanted at us to drown out our own chants of “DREAM ACT AND FULL EQUALITY!” The gay priest was at the front of our little group, and a balding man with a red face and sunglasses got within a few inches of his face to scream. Balding Guy, a member of Gay Priest’s former congregation, grabbed the priest and pushed him back violently. The next thing I knew, a man in a cowboy hat and large, crooked, cigarette-stained teeth that he was baring bulled his way into our priest. Erika was behind him, and took a misfired punch in the face as Cigarette Teeth barreled forward, cursing, swinging and pushing. A few people were sent back into me, and for a minute there he stood in front of me in the open. I wasn’t sure if I should take a swing or not to slow the guy down for my friends. Erika was stumbling backwards into Felipe and Mayra. Mayra was tiny, so Felipe grabbed her as the crowd was isolating her from the group. Both Balding Guy and Cigarette Teeth ultimately ignored the neatly dressed redhead with the camera while he and a few other self-appointed redneck peacekeepers pushed them past me while I trailed behind.
“You see, Obama was an organizer, and organizers have no experience creating jobs. They’re just agitators, looking to force a few corporations to make concessions, which a few of the weak ones do” she told me. She was a 52-year-old woman standing next to me in a blue Romney shirt. Sweating alongside her while someone 20 feet to our left hit the ground from heat exhaustion was a white haired friend. They both wore blue Romney shirts and a rhinestone elephant pin. I told them that I was an undecided Independent just here to cover the RNC, and they instantly became hardcore evangelists, asking me if I liked taxation and big government, clapping their hands and then saying “then you know who to vote for” after I answered. Traveling across the country, you learn that EVERYONE lives in some sort of bubble, though for these Floridians it seemed far stronger than normal.
“Of course corporations are supposed to be greedy, every decision maker has a fiduciary obligation to their shareholders. I want someone who can navigate the laws and get the most they can without breaking the rules like that” I offered the group, tasting bile rise up in my throat as I did. With their rants about big government and regulations, it seemed that they wanted neither community organizers, nor government, to protect them from corporations and industry when they found it profitable to crush them. They’re living in denial that the only reason we don’t still have children working in factories, like many other countries still do, is because of the progressive movement they hate so much. I wondered if they realized the implications of their own argument, but decided to only nod along since I didn’t want to bring unwanted attention before the big show.
My new companions told me about the recent polling that put Romney ahead of Obama in Florida, encouraged me to watch a documentary on Obama called “2016” and that they were confident he’d win. Talking around with the crowd, it was more of the same: Liberals and the media are misinformed scum, we’re the only ones who understand the facts and Romney is going to crush Obama.
The opening speakers on the stage were the usual variety, that is, local politicians. Aside from a joke about everyone’s personal sphere of influence being more powerful than Clint Eastwood, they went through the usual routine that anyone who goes to these events is familiar with: Obamacare sucks, Romney will create jobs and lower taxes and Obama, nice guy that he is, tried BUT failed. The biggest difference now was that they were talking about Paul Ryan’s mother instead of how Obama robbed Medicare. The man behind me, who would engage in some of the shoving later, agreed loudly with every assertion made, giving a “YEA!” or “AMEN!” When Romney came out, they cheered as fervently as I’d seen them at least a dozen other times before at any Romney rally, despite the fact that the delegates were putting up a fight for Santorum and Ron Paul right up ‘til the bitter end. Romney dropped a few of the same lines we’re all used to, like a Broadway actor faking his own death and kissing the same girl for the first time twice every night, before passing the microphone to his wife.
It always strikes me how friendly everyone is until they figure us out, usually when we start chanting. Once the chants started and I began filming, the women took a step back in shock and offense. This quickly led to the mild beating and berating. After the chaos in the cowboy hat, the crowd parted nicely when the group was shoved through and quickly closed behind them, strongly encouraging us towards the exit that the police hurried us through. On the way out, some horrible woman with shriveled skin that looked like drooping, scorched earth, sort of a browner Jan Brewer, leaned over the barricade as far as she could with her equally horrible husband, screaming at us accusingly in tongues as she stuck a finger in my face. She was nearly completely hysterical in her fit of blind rage and, as I flipped them off over my shoulder while I walked away, I vaguely heard someone scream “nice.”
All in all, other than Erika and our priest’s bruises, not a bad demonstration.
Catch the video for the demonstration at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpMYQgNn1bo&feature=player_embedded