It's not pretty either.
By all accounts, Chicago's event went rather smooth and peaceful. No arrests were made (really, who's going to arrrest a white fortysomething for raising a little hell on their lunch break?). I estimated the attendance to be in the hundreds, but later one organizer on MSNBC's Hardball put the estimate at 5000 (which I included on the HuffPo report). I think my estimate was correct - how can a space as large as the Dirksen Plaza handle people in the thousands?
Unlike other events, no politicians spoke. I think they invited Mancow Muller to attract the younger conservatives, and Mancow didn't disappoint. Of all the speakers he was blatant in his attacks on Barack Obama, and he included a rant on his favorite whipping boy - ACORN (he claimed ACORN organizers were at the edge of the crowd, but I think they were wise to stay away from the event). But the other speakers and the guy emceeing the event were careful of their remarks on Obama. I think they either didn't want to incite the crowd to violence, or they didn't want to be seen as extremists themselves.
Much of the signage was pro-freedom, anti-taxation. There were also anti-Obama signs, but they weren't racist in nature. This is in contrast to what I heard there was at other rallies. Sad.
I didn't sense overt racism from the rally participants, but more like anger and fear. What are they afraid of?
Someone told them they were going to pay higher taxes so that it could pay for "poor people".
Someone told them they were going to lose their freedom to a "socialist state".
Someone probably told them they were going to lose their toys, their home, their job if the spending increased.
Wonder who that "someone" is? Wait, don't tell me - Fox News, right?
Their boss? (Wonder what they told their boss when they got back from lunch late after the rally yesterday - did they get a special dispensation for attending the rally? What if they got fired?)
But many of these people attending the rally yesterday didn't look like they were making over $250K, right? If that's the case, then they don't have to worry about higher taxes. But I guess they won't believe it til they see it next year.
And those who were bashing Pat Quinn because of his tax hike proposal, they obviously didn't know that ever with 4.5%, Illinois will still have a pretty low income tax rate, compared with Wisconsin. Or they ignored it, along with Quinn's proposed exemption rate hike to $6K per person to soften the blow.
Were they bashing Quinn because they're the ones who will pay the piper, not the people they're whipping up?
One of the speakers yesterday called the people who were at the Obama victory bash in Grant Park in November "lemmings". What about the people who were at the rally yesterday - what are they?
Okay, but we're still paying higher taxes anyway. True. But they're FICA (that everyone rich and poor has to pay), sales tax (in Cook County the highest in the nation, and that everyone has to pay) and higher user fees that were raised in lieu of higher taxes, but it looks like they're going to go up even with higher taxes.
And like everyone on HuffPo and Keith Olbermann yesterday, I too have to raise the question - why didn't we say anything eight, even thirty years ago? Maybe because the pols back then were fooling everyone with an elaborate and pretty shell game?
The rally ended with promises to keep up the populist fervor. There's supposed to be more rallies planned for Fourth of July - wonder how many people are going to get out of their barbecues and fireworks to come?
And why not keep up the fervor against the people who are really messing with us - Todd Stroger and Richard Daley? Oh, wait- many of the people at the rally yesterday probably don't live in Chicago, so they wouldn't be directly affected.
Will this populist fervor continue into 2010? If the economy improves, maybe not. People will be happy to go back to their oblivion. Maybe for them that will be good. Leave the driving of the nation to the grown-ups so that we can play with our toys.
But as Obama said on Inauguration Day, the time has come to put away childish things. And grow up.
I think that's why we're angry - because we have to grow up and take charge of our lives, for the first time in generations.
And why wasn't Rick Santelli there yesterday? Because he won't own up to what he started.