Broward News

Raging Grannies Ask Where Your Tax Dollars Went, Don't Care if You Wear a Sweater

For too long did grandmothers of yesteryear express their anger quietly, perhaps by "accidentally" missing a cross-stitch on this year's Christmas sweater (and once there's a run, there's no saving Rudolph).

That wasn't Vicki Ryder's style. For the past few years, the 67-year-old founder of the South Florida Raging Grannies has led a gaggle of angry elderly women around the Gold Coast, clothed in aprons, shawls, and oversized hats while singing lyrics penned by Ryder about the government's shortcomings. The above video features the Grannies crooning "We've Always Paid Our Taxes," a special Tax Day tune against their dollars going to support war and other political actions not to their taste.

After the jump, read our Q&A with Ryder, a granny of three, on why the tea party is full of hypocritical copycats and why she never reminds her grandchildren to wear a sweater:

Why are grannies the best kind of people to get political messages across?
People tend to listen to their elders with a bit more respect than they would to younger people, which is kind of a shame. We do bring to our songs the benefit of experience and what we've observed of the world around us. And I think that being grandmothers gives us a sense of compassion and caring for the future and the kind of world our grandchildren will inherit.
Who qualifies as a "raging" grandmother?
Any woman of "that certain age," we call it, who considers herself a raging granny is one. That's the persona that characterizes us, that we dress as sweet little old ladies and then out of our mouths come some pretty outrageous statements. Aprons, hats, and shawls -- that's our granny garb.
And who would dare insult a singing granny?
They'll yet at us, but I've never heard anything intelligent. People got angry when we questioned the government during the Bush years; we were labeled unpatriotic. To me, it's the height of hypocrisy that now the tea party considers itself to be the bastian of patriotism because they're out there expressing their outrage against the president, but when we did it, we were considered traitors.
You're certainly visible to get your political points across. Now that people listen, what's the advice you want them to hear?
To care for other people. That we live in a community with other people and we need to care for each other, and that means we need to make sure we pay our taxes for the right things. It means we don't condone making war on other countries because they're our sisters and brothers as well. That we always act in peace. That we take care of the Earth. And most importantly right now, that we understand that our taxes need to be paid to build our country to ensure lasting benefits -- that everyone has access to affordable health care and to free education.
What about your grandmotherly advice? Ever tell the kids to put on a sweater?
I trust my grandchildren to know when they feel cold and want to do something about it. Even the littlest one who's not quite 2 knows she can wrap herself up in a blanket if she gets cold.

Catch the Raging Grannies on May Day (May 1) in Miami, where they'll be singing to honor laborers and immigrant workers.

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Lisa Gartner
Contact: Lisa Gartner