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As I moseyed around the Tea Party rally at the Amsoil Arena on Sunday, I understood the truth of those words only too well. And from what I heard throughout the afternoon, it seems awfully easy to fool a majority.
I was polite. I asked only innocuous questions, nothing personal. But I came to realize that most of the people at that gathering simply use a different part of the brain than I do.
Left side, right side, the temporal lobe, or the cerebral cortex—it doesn’t matter. A whole bunch of people in this world simply use a different part of their brain than I do to digest and process what the world sends their way.
There were certainly a few hundred of those folks within arm’s reach of me on Sunday, but they were no closer to me in thought than the Earth is to Pluto. We orbit the same sun, but after that I’m not sure what other celestial observations could be made.
Climate change. Health care. Unions. Immigration. Religion—Christian religion. The military and national defense. The environment. The topic didn’t matter. Whatever part of the brain I use to construct my beliefs, those folks sure use another.
A fellow came by with a sign that said Obama was to steer clear of his health care and stay out of his religious beliefs too.
He had a serious look on his face and I could tell he meant it.
Don’t mix health care and religion.
“Lincoln was right, of course; you can’t fool all of
the people all the time, but you only have to fool a
majority.” –Artmeus Ward
I wasn’t quite sure what the connection was between the Affordable Care Act and freedom of religion, other than the misplaced flap over contraceptives and insurance companies. But the punchline of his sign said “Freedom of Religion.”
I was going to talk with him for a moment, just to ask him what the sign meant, but the speaker on the podium got a little loud at that moment and we turned. The speaker was a bit animated and said something to the effect that only a tyrannical government would stop a man in Oregon or Washington, I can’t exactly remember where, from filling in wetlands on his own property. On purpose, I didn’t bring a notepad, so I can’t quote him as well as I might have.
I’ll paraphrase. What are we worried about a few wetlands for? Go to Floodwood. There are some wetlands for you.
I was going to point out to him later the fact that in Minnesota we’ve drained off over 90 percent of our wetlands over the past 150 years. Having some wetlands remaining in northern Minnesota is a good thing, but it doesn’t do much good for other parts of the state that have been changed from prairie and forest to drained-off farmlands that now produce oodles of corn and soybeans and carry quite a bit of atrizine and roundup and whatever other agricultural enhancers we can think of into aquifers and watersheds.
Before I could really articulate my argument about being careful with wetlands, the speaker offered some words about freedom. Then came words about tyranny. And then some more words about freedom. And then there were some words about those who serve in the military and saved us from the devil. I’m pretty sure there were a few patriotisms in there, and later I heard the guy say to a TV news reporter that the Tea Party had the solutions to our problems. The solutions.
I really tried to think hard at that point and remember if any solutions had been offered to anyone in the crowd. I honestly couldn’t think of any. From any speaker. There were lots of freedoms and tyrannies and beliefs in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and deficits we’ll hand off to our children and grandchildren if we don’t change course, but I just couldn’t find any of the solutions.
There were a few references to taxing the rich and creating class warfare instead of revenue. From all appearances, it didn’t seem like there were too many millionaires in the crowd, so I wasn’t quite sure why class warfare would result from asking the wealthy to contribute a few more dollars to the cause of keeping a civil society. Class warfare usually works the other way around, with the oppressed and downtrodden, the moneyless, working against a system that has stacked the odds against them.
I guess it’s the other part of the brain again.
I just don’t get it and I won’t.
Every time I listened to the speakers and the people with their signs, it sounded like we needed to return to the very same thinking that got us into wars and income disparity, climate change and the most expensive health care system in the world with 50 million uninsured. It was the kind of thinking that brought us crumbling infrastructure and no money for schools and a union workforce that barely covers 11 percent of all who labor for pay.
Like I’ve said before, it’s the “Rebellion to Stay the Same,” and all those people who use a different part of the brain than I do are glowing with hope it will come out better this time around.
Betsy Ross was there with a microphone, but I didn’t see Patrick Henry or Ben Franklin.
One speaker came close to saying the word socialism but he was very coy. With a wry smile he indicated that the way the nation was going with Obama was a way that has failed miserably in every other country where it’s been tried. Oh, yes, everybody knew what he meant by that.
Never fear. The ghost of Karl Marx will never gain traction on these shores.
Yes, I’ve come to realize a whole bunch of people use a different part of the brain than I do.