Monday, October 22, 2012 at 9:01 a.m.
If Bain Capital and its kind are giant vampire squids wrapped around the face of humanity, Palm Beach is where they shit. The wealth they extract sits frozen along the waterfront here as miles of palatial estates, massive excrements of money. There's a reason it's called filthy lucre.
Mitt's been invited to dinner with Wilbur because Mitt's promised Wilbur that if he becomes president he'll cut Wilbur's taxes by 20%. Wilbur and his wife have already given $150K to Mitt's campaign. What are friends for?
Along the road to Wilbur's estate, a crowd of Mitt's workers--employees of companies owned by Bain, the hedge fund Mitt founded--were there to greet the boss. They came to Palm Beach on the Bain Bus.
Sponsored by a coalition of labor unions and political and community activists, the Bain Bus workers come from the stockroom, not the boardroom. They've been traveling to swing states around the country for a month, getting out the word on how Mitt treats the help. Typically, he treats them to minimum wage, with hours capped and structured to deny benefits or overtime.
Palm Beach is the last stop on the Bain Bus tour (aside from an appearance in Boca for tomorrow's debate) and the protestors--some 75 of them including local supporters--are energized. Maybe it's the luxurious surroundings.
Signs read "Mitt Ain't Shit," "Veterans and Seniors Are the 47%," "The Romney-Ryan Plan: No Billionaire Left Behind." Helpfully, there's a menu for tonight's banquet, including "Minced Minimum-Wage Miso Soup," "Budget Deficit Minced Bull," and "Sliced Social Security Succotash."
There's a sizable police presence blocking the entrance to the Ross estate. (The Secret Service is here too. Shhh.) But the crowd is having a good time, smiling and chanting.
"This is what democracy looks like!" they sing out to the Beamers and Benz's of Wilbur's other guests cruising by, and to the guests it probably looks pretty distasteful: Women, colored folk, immigrants and working stiffs, dressed in mass market retail, the Big Box Couture of jeans and shorts and running shoes. Really, Muffy, does it seem right these people have votes the same as ours?
The elite's sneaking, or not so sneaking suspicion that "democracy" is just another word for mob rule hits you in the face with a sudden massive influx of cops. As the appointed hour comes round a flying squad of Palm Beach Sheriff's motorcycle bulls roars in, jack-booted and helmeted, and pulls up in a line along the protestors' front, cordoning them off from the road.
The protest is peaceful, if raucous, but the show of force grows into a police vehicle Fourth of July, a fireworks display of more motorbikes and mighty SUVs, streaming mini-caravans with black-tinted windows breaking through the hedges off a neighboring road, a glistening, building cacophony building capped by the arrival of a Delray Beach fire truck, siren blaring. A some point in the crescendo of uproar the Mittster arrives, gliding by in his security bubble to the $50K-a-plate dinner. Didn't even take the time to wave.
The Bain Bus folks stayed on awhile longer, then gradually decamped, their energy subsiding. As the daylight faded the mood turned reflective. There was time for one more chant, this time a song, the hymn of the underdog, "We Shall Overcome."
It was cliche, and it could have been sappy but it was moving, the great unwashed, screwed over forever while their bosses get rich, singing the faith like they still believe it, despite it all. Their untrained voices sounded pretty damn good.
Fire Ant--an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes fatal bite--covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org