Sunday, March 19, 2006

The WEBB/ALLEN Showdown: Mixing Beer + Politics in a Red Sate

Here in downtown Richmond, VA, I celebrated St. Patrick's day by walking down to 17th Street and Main to revel in the holiday atmosphere, drink a few beers, and mainly, to sign the petition to get James Webb on the primary ballot for the 2006 Senate race. Upon my arrival, I quickly realized that I had no interest in paying to wear a green bracelet that would allow me to wait in a long line to buy expensive watered down beer (tinted green, I might add), so my boyfriend and I decided to find the Webb volunteers, sign the petition, and then drink beer in a bar. The Webb folks were very nice, they shared some info we had already read here on DKos, and we had a nice conversation and got some stickers. We proudly put them on, thanked the staffers, and walked over to a bar called Rosie Connolly's, located right in the thick of the outdoor celebration. And there, my friends, is where our afternoon turned ugly...

Now, I am a staunch supporter of blue folks in a red state, and I have always been able to reassure myself that while I may be surrounded by a majority of uninformed partisan hacks, I am usually a "winner" in debates with friends and strangers bc like most of my progressive friends, I rely on facts as opposed to rhetoric.  I also advocate NOT yelling in the face of strangers, nor do I call them names.  For your Sunday morning pleasure, I would like to reiterate the "facts" a few choice George Allen supporters laid on me after I politely moved my belongings for 3 people so they could squeeze into the small space on the crowded bench at the bar.

Things started out nicely enough; they thanked my boyfriend and I for the room, and we chatted about the weather.  The two women seemed normal enough, and we ordered a second round and even offered to buy them a beer; they admitted they were drunk enough and were just stopping by for a few cigarettes in the warm bar.  A few minutes later, they were joined by a male friend, and I shifted again to make room.  He sat down, and immediately took notice of the Webb sticker on my chest. He asked me why I was not supporting Miller, and before I could answer him, he laughed and said he didn't really care, he was a George Allen supporter.  I said, "well, hey; good luck with that," and smiled cheerily.  Apparently, that was a mistake on my part.

Throughout the next hour, we were called "communists," "misinformed liberal whackjobs," and "freedom hating UN-Americans."  Now keep in mind, we did NOT start the political conversation, and as the two grew more and more irate (the brunette girl just sat there smoking; her ONLY contribution to the conversation was that the Katrina victims were asking for it by living there:  BRILLIANT WOMAN, I know) we repeatedly made statements to the tune of "we are just talking here, no need to get angry, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, please stop yelling in my face," etc., etc.  We finally paid our check bc we realized we were getting nowhere with these people, and as I was signing my receipt, I calmly told them to continue the anger fueled, partisan, uninformed rhetoric because it worked really well in the gubernatorial race last year where Tim Kaine wiped the floor with Jerry Kilgore.  They yelled some more insults at us as we left, but again, the point of this diary is to repeat the hilarious "facts" these three were relying upon as their reason to support the Republican party...

  •  "The biggest port in America is either NYC or Newport News VA, NOT New Orleans."  This is actually the only comment they admitted to being wrong about, which is why I am listing it first.

  •  They claimed to be libertarians, yet when we asked them if they knew exactly what a libertarian was, they unwittingly made a great case for fascism instead.  I guess they are a little confused about what they actually stand for, which is not really surprising.

  •  "The only responsibility of the federal government is to protect us from attacks from without and attacks from within."  They then said that if poor people cannot afford to pay for safety, then they deserve to die. Of course, this was where the Katrina conversation started, and the whole "biggest port" debacle ensued. They also believe that if you choose to live in a city below sea level, you get what you deserve.  I asked them if NYC got what it deserved on 911 (bc I know how Republicans love to talk about 911).  He froze like a deer in Dick Cheney's gunsight, and changed the subject by saying, "We aren't talking about 911." Within 3 minutes, he WAS talking about 911, though, just on his terms.

  •  "Saddam caused 911, and if you don't believe that, you can get out."  When we sighed loudly, and mentioned the word Afghanistan followed by the words Bin Laden, the male started screaming "SHUT UP, COMMIE!!!  911 was CLINTON'S FAULT!!!"  At this point, we tried to end the conversation by simply stating that we were just talking here, having a discussion, and that we were not interested in their irate attitude and insults.  He calmed down a bit, and although we were ready to go, we continued to listen.

  •  He told us that he could tell we were pacifists and against any war, and probably "hippies" and we told him no, and mentioned Afghanistan again, he started yelling AGAIN, red faced and clench fisted.  I caught the waitress's eyes, and motioned for the check.

  •  The blonde woman started complaining about how "people like us" made it possible for the apartment building she owned in, and THIS is the most atrocious comment made, "LITTLE NAIROBI of Richmond," to be "overrun with blacks and other bastards" and force her to sell the property.  We told them that that was enough; we don't converse with bigots.

  •  This was where the conversation ended; the women rolled their eyes, and stated that they had wasted enough time on us, and just smoked and talked about us loudly, moving on to make comments about our clothes and hair, bc obviously, THAT is the most important contribution to politics.  The male grabbed my arm, and actually apologized, stating that he WAS wrong about the biggest port in the country, but that he never admits when he was wrong.  I looked him square in the face, and told him that THAT was his problem, and that if he wanted to follow lockstep with 34% of the country, then he was welcome to do so. I reminded him that yes, although it is hard to believe, the majority of the country is unhappy with the job Bush and the Republican controlled Congress is doing. He said, "Oh c'mon...the Republicans don't controll Congress! And anyway, 66% of the country is stupid."  I stared at him in disbelief, I made my closing Kaine/Kilgore remark, and we left.

  • Folks, this was the first time I had ever been publicly attacked for displaying a political sticker.  I am sure that there will be more fun filled conversations to come, as I believe that this Senate race and ALL Senate races are going to get a little heated, to say the least.  It seems to me, and perhaps to you, that this angry vitriole spewing from the right is evidence of FEAR, and unfortunately for them, it does not seem to be helping them gain any ground.  Liberals get called elitists, and Republicans, or "libertarians that only support Republicans" are admittingly only concerned with their OWN well being, and hey...if the country does not agree with them, then they are wrong and "stupid."