Politics and Pigs at the County Fair:
On Saturday, the Rude Pundit went to the Sussex County Fair in the Arkansas section of New Jersey, up in the north by northwest corn-covered part of the Garden State. We watched the turkey calling competition, which was disappointing for the number of people who just scratched wood or metal instead of making mouth noises (except for one extraordinary man who was, for all intents and purposes, half-turkey). No one yelled their "Gobble-gobble." It was very serious and judged and sanctioned by the turkey callers association, which is a thing. We looked at the prize-winning alpacas, goats, chickens, rabbits, and cows, and we gawked at the size of the sheep's enormous balls and scrotum. We ate pretzels and ice cream. We made merry, and we mocked many.
As we wandered those hay and dirt paths, the Rude Pundit saw a Winnebago painted with a bearded man hanging out with dinosaurs, proclaiming that it was the Genesis ark, the one Noah floated on the flood, not knowing where the fuck he was going or when the fuck he'd land. The ark was free to see. "Oh, I'm going in there," the Rude Pundit said, and he ran in. It was a weird collection of stuffed animals, two of every kind, and little grade-school posters saying how the Bible was right about all kinds of scientific stuff, like that the earth is a sphere, with references to verses (but not the actual quotes, since you could call "bullshit" on a passage that says "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth" demonstrating that the earth is round). He bailed before the exit because you had to head to a fenced-in area and scary proselytizers sat at a table, ready to hammer you with Jesus' love.
When we passed a tent for the Sussex County Tea Party, the Rude Pundit, who had just poked his head into the NRA tent but left, said, "Oh, I'm going in here." He walked in to see the anti-Obama and anti-Hillary bumper stickers and buttons. There were bizarre posters of the Founders and literature about how Obama is not really a leader. A man in a t-shirt with a picture of Paul Ryan on it, like a Leif Garrett shirt on a dreamy teenage girl in the 1970s, walked up to the Rude Pundit and asked if he could help. The Rude Pundit said he was just looking around. "Do you agree with the Tea Party?" the man asked, and the Rude Pundit instantly knew that this poor bastard's wife never got any foreplay before the fucking started.
"Maybe one or two things. Not much," the Rude Pundit answered honestly.
The teabagger brought up worries about NSA surveillance overreach, which the Rude Pundit agreed with. Strange bedfellows, you know: you get drunk or high enough, you never know who you'll end up next to. The Rude Pundit pointed out that surveillance started under Bush, but the teabagger dismissed the point because the Tea Party wasn't around then.
Then Teabag Jake (who knows what the fuck his name was and who cares?) said, "And what about the IRS? Doesn't it bother you that they're targeting Tea Party groups?"
"Well, they weren't just targeting the Tea Party. There were progressive-"
"The IRS was asking Tea Party members what books they read. They wanted book reports. Book reports. They wanted to know who they spoke to. Is that fair?"
"That's not actually true. I think that it's Congress's role to investigate this stuff. They did, and there's nothing wrong happening."
Teabag Jake said, "Congress. That's like asking the fox to guard the henhouse." The Rude Pundit wanted to point out that the analogy made no sense in this context, but fuck it - go on TJ. "The people need to get involved."
At this point, the Rude Pundit's tone turned from "Polite and wanting to engage" to "Wow, you are a dumb fuck" as he said, "That's why we elect representatives. To be our voice. If we don't like it, we can elect new representatives." He wanted to get TJ to agree, to corner him. C'mon, motherfucker, he wanted to say, you're wearing a fucking congressman on your tits.
TJ, though, had other ideas. "The Congress can't get anything done."
"That's because Republicans-" But it was futile, as such discussions are.
"You know that the states have rights," TJ explained. "Article 5 of the Constitution says that 3/5 of the states can call a convention to amend the Constitution. Don't you think that's a good idea?"
The Rude Pundit was at a crossroads. Did he engage and tell TJ how he was factually wrong? Did he say that he thought it would be a good idea, as Lawrence Lessig has proposed, to have such a convention to overturn Citizens United and get corporate money out of the politics? Did he tell TJ that he was barking mad?
Nah. He bailed. "I see someone waving for me to go." TJ tried to get him to come to a meeting. By that point, the Rude Pundit was out of the tent and back to his wandering.
When we passed the anti-choice organization's tent, with fetus dolls available to touch (although he doesn't know if they were giving them away, like at the North Dakota State Fair), the Rude Pundit wasn't inclined to engage. Besides, it was nearly time for the pig races, and, goddamn, if those little potbellied bacon-makers weren't adorable running around a little track and jumping into water.
Yeah, fairs are prime ground for political candidates to show they are one with the people. And, no, it wasn't exactly the Missouri State Fair's rodeo clown with Obama's face. But, with the Democratic Party hidden among the commercial booths and no progressive groups represented, not even an organization that wants to keep fracking waste out of the state, the blatant rightward tilt of the event was more full of shit than the pig pens.
Oh, yeah. That guy up there? That worried eagle was carved out of part of a tree by a chainsaw artist. The Rude Pundit would like to think that the eagle is concerned about a nation that is fine with the government being able to spy on it but is nervous about one that helps provide health care. More likely, though, is that the eagle is supposed to be thinking, "Wait, they elected a black man president? Twice?"
(Tip of the rude hat to reader RHS for the North Dakota story.)