[Artist Faith Bennett (D-FL) happened to be on-hand when GOP Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) made a campaign stop at Angie’s Subs in Jacksonville on August 26. Her words and photos follow.]
Michelle Bachman’s blue campaign bus did not come silently, literally or figuratively, to Jacksonville Florida as it pulled into the locally legendary business that is Angie’s Subs. Hundreds packed in the small building pushing the capacity, and much of the crowd pushing 60. Small women stood on chairs, some waited in rocking chairs, others still stood by the glass window anxiously awaiting their favored presidential candidate.
The wait seemed more unbearable than the heat to the members of the First Coast Tea Party that remained inside. Whispers filled the room along with a sing-a-long Tea Party anthem prompting Americans to “Stand up” for freedom. “She’s probably doing her make up,” one woman noted, “she has to.” Another woman took the lull as an opportunity to show off her “I was anti-Obama before it was cool” pin to more people in the room.
When Bachman finally made her entrance, she was greeted with signs and smiles and American flags. The students starting the UNF chapter of the Tea Party seemed nervously excited. The founders of the First Coast Tea Party were proud and stood with their chins up. Ed Malin, the self described “Bible Thumpin’ Gun Totin’ Capitalist Pig,” who owns Angie’s Subs was happy. He had moments ago expressed via microphone that he hoped Bachman to be his next president. Michelle Bachman herself was hard to see at first over the crowd. As one woman put it, “She’s Teensy!” Her diminutive stature is a severe misrepresentation of her personality however. She speaks with a Minnesotan accent and all the enthusiasm in the world and gestures with her hands wildly with the zeal of a tent revivalist (and close to the same values.)
Bachman wasted no time explaining her disagreement with Obamacare. She spoke of how she wrote the bill to repeal Obamacare and how she was “The first member of congress on the floor introducing that bill.” She told of her desire to cut spending to the Enviromental Protection Agency, a declaration that was immediately met with clapping and cheering.. “I intend to turn out the lights and lock the doors on the EPA,” she followed while doing a locking motion with her hands. When she closed her brief speech she made sure to say “God bless you!” to the crowd demonstrating her beliefs.
She spent longer shaking hands, holding babies, and signing the shoulders of Tshirts than giving her speech, though she didn’t stop speaking as she posed for pictures. As she signed a piece of memorabilia for an older gentleman, she expressed the ease at which she believed the natural gas movement could be started in the United States., “We can. Very easily. That’s the good thing is that we’ve got the resources in abundance.” She also made note however that she didn’t want America to own GM anymore. She is strongly against America owning companies. Bachman and her fans spent the hour of meeting and greeting aflutter with hope to, as Bachman put it, “Change the Change.” The collective spirit of the room was one of triumph in that they believed to be taking back America, and preserving their rights.
Outside, there was a smaller crowd. Ten (maybe) protesters stood on the corner with signs also demonstrating a desire to preserve their rights, and their country. The message was the same but the meaning couldn’t have been more opposite. Patriotism in the U.S. will always be relative.