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Gingrich was taking your Harley out for a weekend, nothing more

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, December 15, 2011 14:26 EDT
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Every year in June in Austin, a sea of bikers converges on the city for the weekend, parking their expensive Harleys and chopped-up cruising motorcycles 5 deep on each side of 6th St. They prance around wearing leather jackets, bandanas, and various combinations of the U.S. flag and the Confederate flag. There's beer-drinking and loud noises and bikinis. It's called the Republic of Texas Rally, and it's both amusing and annoying, all at once. And, when Monday comes around, all those tough-looking bikers return to their suburban homes, put on their khaki pants and return to their jobs as accountants and dentists. After all, it costs a lot of money to buy just a basic Harley off the lot, much less one of the chopped bikes that draws so much attention at the ROT Rally. My sister called them "rubbers", for Rich Urban Bikers, but while that has a nice ring to it, they're really Rich Suburban Bikers. Good luck finding a pleasant acronym for that. There's a reason there's yawningly huge Harley dealerships in the suburban areas of Texas.

These rubbers are, as you can imagine, largely Republican. They are definitely the sort of people who find the Tea Party compelling; I'm guessing that many motorcycles since I've moved have been updated with "Don't Tread on Me" logos, as well as more Confederate flags, as a talisman to keep the reality that we elected a black President from penetrating their consciousness. (Don't worry; the realization sneaks up on them in their sleep, and they wake up screaming.) 

I bring this up, because the entirely predictable thing is happening in the primary polls: Newt Gingrich is losing his allure. I realize it was SOP in pundit circles to think he ever had a chance against Romney, because it is true that your average Republican voter likes him way more than they like Romney. After all, they believe he pisses off the liberals, since that's what they remember happening last time they tuned in to what liberals were actually thinking in 1995. Pissing off the liberals is the fundamental urge of the wingnut, after all. It's a primal urge that fills in the holes where your sex drive used to be. But just as even the horniest person knows that they have to keep their pants on in public, wingnuts know that there's a time and a place for supporting exciting so-called leaders who seamlessly blend the concepts of "nutty" and "asshole". And that time and place is not the Republican primary.

(Anti-choice nuts are excluded from this, of course. They are like subway masturbators. They know they're inappropriate, and that's what gets them off.)

That's what Newt Gingrich was. And Herman Cain before him. And Michele Bachmann before them: the ROT Rally. It was taking a weekend and fantasizing about What If, before returning to your normal life selling mutual funds. Rick Perry was a little like imagining what'll be like when you retire and can finally live the biker lifestyle on the road, before you realize that actually, now that your bones are starting to ache a little, it's probably not wise to sell the house just yet. These candidates were all the fantasy of rebellion against some imagined liberal power monopoly, a temporary finger thrown in the face of the people who thought it was A-OK to vote for someone with a weird  name like "Barack Obama". But Monday comes around, and you need those people as customers/voters, and out goes the eagle-emblazoned leather jacket and your wife in a halter top, and on with the tie and a nice family picture on your desk of everyone in Christmas sweaters. Mitt Romney is a tie and a picture of you in your Christmas sweater. Not as fun, but gets the job done. 

All of which is to say that I have nothing against motorcycles, per se. I find them a lot of fun. Just so long as you're not riding with someone with an American flag bandana and "questions" about Obama's birth certificate. 

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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