I know people object to the loose using of words like "mentally ill," but I don't know how else to describe it. This was not "wow, I disagree with their positions," this was absolute, off-the-wall, divorced from reality, frightening paranoia, on scale withe "the cia is listening to me through the walls."
To start with, I didn't hunt down tea partiers. I just ended up in a room with a dozen or so people who launched into this type of stuff. I asked, are they part of the tea party? And they cheered before announcing that, yes, they were all tea partiers, had participated in protests, and had even traveled to Washington (from Texas) to be part of a big rally up there.
They asked me if I was one of "those people" who opposed the tea party. And I said, in hopes of hearing an answer, that, no, I neither supported or opposed because I didn't know enough about what they believed. Could you explain it to me?....
And then everything went off the rails.
To start with, I am not an arguer, I am a discusser. If someone is easy to recognize as unreasonable, I let them burn themselves out by raving. Sometimes I will ask a question, if only to see how far they will go, but I will not contradict when it is pointless.
So, as I listened, here is what the tea partiers said to me. This is in relative order. None of them disagreed with anything another said, and there was widespread agreement on most of it.
1. Obamacare: It is a plot by Obama to take over the American healthcare system. He (literally, he) would dictate which doctors everyone was allowed to see. If there were doctors that didn't do what Washington told them, then Obama wouldn't send them patients.
A. Washington would decide all treatments that everyone was allowed to have.
B. The only treatment that was guaranteed to be paid for are abortions.
We will return to Obamacare later, the same as the conversation
2. Obama has already tripled taxes on the middle class, and is giving the money to "those people."
A. He is a communist/socialist/fascist who is stealing all of the money from people who work and giving it to "those people" to reward them for not working.
We will return to this, the same as the conversation
3. He is not really the president.
A. Birther blah blah.
B. He intentionally didn't say the right words when he was being sworn in so that when it is found he undermined the Constitution he couldnt be sent to jail for perjury. (If you remember, the incorrect words were said by Chief Justice Roberts, but they swore him in again later just to make sure there were no problems.)
C. He has been placed in government by "our enemies" so that he can subvert America.
4. He hates America (no further explanation given, just lots of nodding heads.)
5. He violates the Constitution every day.
A. There is not a single law he has passed where he has cited which part of the Constitution allows it to be passed. (This time I spoke and said, "didn't Congress pass the laws?" There was all sorts of snickering, and someone actually said, "You must read the New York Times. We live in a dictatorship.")
At that point, since I was not arguing, they went back and got even more off the charts.
6. Back to Obamacare:
A. The REAL reason for control over all the doctors is because if there is a second term, he has ordered millions of tracking devices to be constructed, which the doctors are already under orders that they have to implant so that Obama can know where everyone is at all times.
B. When I asked how they knew that, one of the guys there said he got it from his "source in the White House." This guy was a retiree who used to work in a sporting goods store.
7. Obama has taken over both Facebook and Apple, and has already begun to use them so that all American could be followed.
A. Apple is using the Iphones to track all Americans and the information is relayed every day back to the White House, and there are full reports ready every morning to review where everyone is.
B. The information gathered by Facebook is used so that people can be followed by armies of -- i didn't understand armies of who -- are surreptitiously able to follow everyone.
8. The reason for all of this is that Obama is planning to launch a war against the United States, probably a race war, bot definitely some sort of civil war.
9. The tracking devices would then be used to locate everyone who has been opposing him, so that they would then be rounded up "just like the Jews."
10. One of the men said that he had already painted over the windows of his house and camoflauged it with bushes, vines, etc, so that when they came to take him away, they wouldn't know where he was in the house and he could use his guns to fight back.
11. One of the women said that she wouldn't feel safe unless she was able to live underground, and hide, "like Saddam Hussein did."
Then we went down a quick list: Obama has never released his taxes, he eats dog at the White House and served it at a State Dinner, he is not really married to Michelle but they are pretending because they don't want people to know that the daughters were born out of wedlock, and he only killed Bin laden for political purposes.
Every now and then, I looked around convinced that these people were kidding. They weren't. They really and truly believe this. This is the tea party. No wonder the GOP can't control them.
A scary, scary day.
In response to some of the comments, let me say this..
1. Re: USe of mentally ill: The level of paranoia, the statements that portrayed the world as some giant conspiracy, the "devices are listening in on us" stuff, this is not just normal "gee that's weird behavior." There is something psychologically wrong here. If you met someone and she said that the CIA is listening to her through the walls, you would think that she had a psychiatric problem. That is exactly what I experienced. What would you call it?
I agree, these are not words that should be tossed around easily. But this is not easy -- these people are symptomatic of something. If not mental illness, then a neurological disorder. This kind of paranoia is not in the realm of normal human functioning.
Also, I will point out -- someone in comments says he has a mental illness, is treated, and that what i am describing is mental illness.
2. I ended up in this room because I went to visit my mother at a retirement community and she had a doctors appointment at the campus, so after i took her there i went to have lunch. there were a bunch of people there, mostly in their 60s, but several who were in their 50s. Sat with them for lunch. and that's what happened.