It has been a hot day to be protesting anything. The only people who looked comfortable were the Belly Dancers for Single Payer.
A few moments after news of the ruling rippled through the crowd, an old woman was loaded into an ambulance, looking frail in her yellow shirt, breathing through an oxygen mask.
Tempers were wearing thin. “This is martial law,” people mumbled, as the police tried to get them to step back. Everything was happening in capital letters. The signs waved. “OBAMA WE ARE NOT YOUR CHATTEL!” “Get your ovaries out of my rosaries!” “Bad things happen when you don’t have health care? Should have thought about that before you decided to be poor!”
“What a stupid sign,” murmured a Planned Parenthood protester.
Someone quietly explained that it is supposed to be a joke.
A gentleman in a hat covered in badges and buttons (“Hockey Moms for Obama!”) waved a homemade banner proclaiming, “The Dream Shall Never Die — Ted Kennedy.”
As tends to happen on hot days when protesters are standing next to one another with signs expressing fundamental disagreement on some issue, people were bickering about Leviticus. What an amazing run Leviticus has had, for a man with an improbable name who lived before the invention of foaming hand soap.
Suddenly a cheer arose. What has happened? Who has prevailed? Everyone scrambled for smartphones. A woman took the best-amplified microphone and began yelling: “The Constitution matters!”
Clearly, the news for Overturners was bad.
“It’s almost irrelevant what Congress did today,” she continued, “or what the Supreme Court ruled today.”
That was definitely bad. After a few moments of deliberation as to the meaning of the Twitter reports, the small pink Planned Parenthood cluster began cheering.
“HEALTH CARE FOR ALL!” yelped the man with the Ted Kennedy banner. It was not for nothing that he made the sign himself on his office printer and laminated it with contact paper. “Health care for all!”
Someone named Rusty expressed unhappiness into a microphone. He said the court is suffering from something that sounds like “severe dyspepsia.”
“BOO, STOP TALKING!” a woman shouted. “BOOO, STOP TALKING! STOP TALKING! STOP TALKING!”
“We love socialism! We love communism!” a tea partyer yelled into a megaphone, trying to channel the crowd.
“Once in prison,” Mr. Dyspepsia said, “they cannot compel us any further.”
You stop paying attention for a second, and suddenly everyone is going to prison. “God will help us,” he added. “And here’s where we join the court today, in its prayer . . . God save the United States.”
Lisa Miller, of the Tea Party, gave me a terrifying, apocalyptic interview. She’s been protesting since 2008 (“I was against TARP”). A small-business owner in insurance and financial services, she opposed the health-care mandate. Government involvement reduces competition and decreases your life expectancy. Look at Greece. And Spain. And Italy. Now, it’s here. “They’ll kill a lot of people before it collapses.”
I asked her about the woman in the ambulance. She says that no doubt she was on Medicare and that “500 million was taken out of that pool” to care for people who can afford to pay for themselves.
“No more natural consequences for people being irresponsible.” She said that she is going off to smoke and become obese and that I will have to pay for it.
But it’s not just President Obama. It’s also Mitt Romney. “Progressivism is in both parties,” she said. “It’s a cancer.” I wanted to ask whether this counted as a preexisting condition, but she continued: “It’s like the family member of an alcoholic. They’re supporting — they’re exploiting human weakness . . . even as they destroy our nation.”
It got pretty apocalyptic pretty fast.
But there is hope! “Only 3 percent of the population successfully had the American Revolution,” she said.
I tried to work through this statistic. Before we figured out how to count women and slaves, the horsemen of the apocalypse rode through again. “We need to anticipate collapse,” she said. “This is a pyrrhic victory.”
The man with the megaphone cut in. “We love communism! We love socialism! We love —” something that sounds like Shabazzism.
What is Shabazzism?
“Chavezism,” he said, enunciating. His name is James Wilson. He is not from around here. “We love Shabazzism!” he shouted, for good measure. “We love collectivism!”
Lisa hushed him. “I don’t look to politicians for the answer,” she explained. “We are going to be the ones that rebuild our country, who recreate out of the ashes the real rule of law where natural consequences happen.” It will, she added, be a “spiritual challenge, living in a tyrannical government . . . it sounds like government has no limits. But, again, I haven’t read the decision.”
The only person who seemed pleased about all this was the Grim Reaper, a 22-year-old college student named Justin Pulliam. “The Grim Reaper is all for Obamacare,” he explained. “It provides more customers for the Grim Reaper. For myself, I think we need to repeal it.” For 2012, the Grim Reaper endorses “Obama, Holder, Biden — Fast and Furious, death panels, what more would the Grim Reaper want?”
In conclusion, “Obamacare is one of the best things to come along for the Grim Reaper. By the time government gets around to treating people, they may be receiving a visit from the Grim Reaper, and that’s not what we need in America.”
For more on the Supreme Court ruling: