I met Wayne Davis in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this weekend on the corner of State and Third streets. It was Saturday, and about 600 Tea Party-types were gathering above us for a Tea Party on the steps of the state Capitol. Marchers carried signs saying “Big Government = Slavery” and “Fire King Obama and Queen Pelosi.” Many had yellow “Don’t Tread on Me Flags.” Davis was selling them for five or $15, depending on the size.
“We’re just following the tour,” Davis, who is from Cincinnati, explained. In the last two weeks he’s been to Birmingham, Orlando, Houston and Baton Rouge. “It’s been a little slow.”
Davis told me he has “naturally a football vendor” and, at age 50, has been peddling things for the last 43 years. But he thought the tea parties would be more lucrative than the Steelers, so he gave it a shot. I asked him if he believed in the message.
“No, I don’t. Some of what they say offends me,” he said, gesturing over to a representative of the Lyndon LaRouche PAC holding fliers of Barack Obama with a Hitler mustache. Davis is black, and said he thought this was racist. But business is business.
“I believe in the American way: pure capitalism,” he said. “Buy low, sell high.”
The rally started under a cloudy sky. Several big rigs (one said “Truckin’ for Jesus”) followed the marchers down State Street blowing their horns.
I was in town visiting a friend who works at the Capitol here, and we checked out the rally after a quick visit to his office. The message of the party was generally that government was out of control, deficit spending will destroy us and that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell as well as Obama and Pelosi need to go. We didn’t stick around to hear Dick Armey speak, but I did get this video of right-wing-rhyme-smith Hi Caliber. He did three songs, including “Patriotic People.”
Favorite line: “Things are getting out of control, like Joe Biden’s hair.”