How cool is this idea? Happy 'em till they fold...B-)
I spent most of my political life as a Republican. While that's a little hard to imagine now, I have sufficient experience to know that the commonly held view that Republicans either can't dance or won't dance is inaccurate. When I was a Republican, I was as dedicated to dancing as I am now and there were others like me, as I recall.
Still, part of what drove me from the party - aside from a categorical repudiation by the current administration of most Republican principles - is a dour dancelessness that crept into Republican "culture." It seems increasingly ironic to call the GOP a party at all...
Maureen Dowd recently observed that the Republicans had become so obsessed with rejecting the 60's ethic of doing it if it feels good that they have taken up an ethic of doing it if it makes someone else feel bad. Moreover, the GOP strategy of basing their root-level organization on Hot Protestantism has infused their ranks with a lot of chilly Puritanism, which, as H.L. Mencken defined it, is "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time."
These were among the factors in mind recently as I turned my thoughts to what I might do to vex the Republicans when they gather in New York a month from now. Furious as I may be at their policies, conventional protest is not an option.
If it were peaceful protest, they would ignore it even if two million people turned up. They have a demonstrated capacity to do that. Indeed, the administration consists of such fervent God-anointed idealists that they would "stay the course" against any opposition short of a majority too overwhelming to rig their electronic voting machines against.
If the protests in New York should turn even a little violent, it will be to Bush's benefit. This is so much the case that I rather expect to see undercover agents provocateurs scattered among the ragtag disaffected who will shortly descend on Manhattan. And the NYPD, while generally my favorite police force on the planet, can get themselves in a froth when they feel spooked. One thrown bottle could result in days of riveting television, during which Bush would have plenty of opportunity to pretend, convincingly to some, that he was Gary Cooper.
Besides, anyone with an explicit intention to protest Republican policies, anyone carrying an anti-Bush sign, indeed, anyone wearing a neither a smile nor a Bush button, is likely to be corralled into one of the remote "Free Speech Zones" that Mayor Bloomburg will graciously provide his guests, there to vent his fury upon his fellow infuriated. None for me, thanks.
I have another idea, and you can help. Indeed, as wild, fun-loving BarlowFriendz, I'm counting on you to help.
I want to dance in the streets.
I don't want to confront the Republicans. I want to discombobulate them. I don't want to argue with them, which would only convince them further, I want to throw them off their game. I don't want to be aggressive in my discontent. God knows there's been plenty of that on all sides. I want to be genial. But disconcerting.
So, to that end, I propose the following: I want to organize a cadre of 20 to 50 of us. I want to dress us in suits and other plain pedestrian attire and salt us among the sidewalk multitudes in Republican-rich zones. At a predetermined moment, one of us will produce a boom-box and crank it up with something danceable. Suddenly, about a third of the people on the sidewalk, miscellaneously distributed in the general throng, will start dancing like crazy and continue to do so for for about a minute. Then we will stop, melt back into the pedestrian flow, and go to another location to erupt there.
Perhaps if we enlist enough troops, we can have several platoons simultaneously exploding into dance around Manhattan, so there will be absolutely no way to tell where we might strike next.
I promise you, this will make the Republicans uncomfortable. They will return to their partisan duties with a sense of disquiet that will slightly but surely fuzz the intensity of their focus. Besides, we'll enjoy it. That alone will irritate them. And we'll be doing nothing they can arrest us for. Nor, for that matter, televise us doing. By the time cameras arrive, we'll be gone.
I have to admit there's nothing terribly original about this idea. I'm talking about forming a standard smart mob, similar to the group my friend Reverend Billy convenes every Tuesday to wander around the WTC PATH station, muttering the 1st Amendment. But it's a start, and I think that once we get ourselves assembled, we will be able to cook up a number of other creative pranks we might inflict on our thin-lipped countrymen.
I may put up a web site that we can use to organize ourselves. In the meantime, I will start a mailing list of everyone who wants to participate, and, of course, I expect that we will discuss this proposal here on this blog at some length.
Please e-mail me at once at if you're interested. And pass this invitation to others who might be.
I've been thinking for some time that the problem with politics is that doesn't know how to have a good time. And it certainly doesn't dance enough. This is your chance to address both of these deficiencies.
And remember the great Emma Goldman who said, "If I can't dance, I want no part of your revolution." What she knew is that dancing is itself a revolutionary act. Come revolt with us. And bring your smile.