Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Oh, what a beautiful morning

Oh, what a beautiful day....

October 2. Gandhi's birthday. And the date of the One Nation Working Together rally in DC.

By almost all accounts it was an exciting and inspiring day - even if it was, as the satirical Charlie King song has it, "vaguely reminiscent of the '60s." I haven't written about it because I assume you know about it, plus that you were there and/or read accounts of it. Unhappily, I wasn't there - I wanted to go but for various reasons having to do with arrangements here it just couldn't be worked out.

So assuming as I do that you know about it and have seen at least a couple of the many pictures of that day that are out there, I'm going to add just a few observations of my own.

One is that I just knew that the numbers game was going to get played: Was this bigger or smaller than Glen "I am the Messiah" Beck's on August 28? Well, in fact it seemed to me, based on the pictures, that it was somewhat but not significantly smaller - but frankly I really don't care because I got tired of that game a long time ago. Back in the days when the DC police would give crowd estimates, I used to say you could get a fair guess as to the total by taking the average of the police estimate and the organizers' estimate and shading it a little toward the latter because the police tended to underestimate more than the organizers tended to overestimate.

On the other hand, the organizers' estimate here of an attendance of 175,000 was surely a lot closer to the mark than Beck's wildly inflated claim of 500,000-plus for his revival meeting - especially since according to an aerial survey of the crowd commissioned by CBS News, Beck's crowd actually numbered less than 90,000.

That in turn would make the total for October 2 "only" about 70,000 or so, but leave that aside because what I think is more important and can be safely said in any event is that the October 2 crowd was far more diverse both racially and ethnically than that Beck drew. If you wanted to judge on a "looks like America" scale, One Nation would drub Beck-o-Rama - that fact being one of the things that drives the fear in the Beckians: More and more, they do not "represent America."

At the same time, I knew I knew I knew as soon as I saw this photo from CNN, obviously taken before the rally started, that some rightwing nutzoid somewhere would take that or some similar shot and use it to claim that the rally was a fizzle. And indeed one, someone of who I had to this point been happily unaware, did just that, using a photo taken after the rally was over to claim that only "a few hundred losers" showed up - a claim so out of it that even his commenters could not swallow it whole.

Something else here is that whenever I attended these kinds of huge rallies, I never listened to the speakers. I usually spent the time roaming the edges of the crowd, reading signs and seeing what sorts of literature were being passed out. So had I been able to go to this one, perhaps I wouldn't have been as disappointed as I could have been - since I wouldn't have been aware of it as I could have been - by the fact that what came from the speakers' platform amounted to "elect Democrats." October 2 was promoted as a rally to demand jobs, justice, and educational opportunity, but what it came out as from the stage was a big Get Out The Vote For The Democrats event. That was not only a major disappointment, I say it was a serious failing.

Now, I am going to vote - other than a few strictly local elections, the only time in my adult life I haven't voted was once when I moved into an area too late to register - and while for Governor I'm voting Green, for Congress I will vote for the Democrat because he's reasonably good and there is no one better on the ballot. But if you try to tell me, especially at a "Jobs, Justice, and Education" protest, which should be about policy, not party, that the answer to our problems and pitfalls is keeping Congress in the hands of the Democrats who have been either (depending on your viewpoint and assuming there's a difference) corporate-toady fucking assholes or GOPper-accommodationist fucking assholes, well I'm going to tell you to go fuck off. Voting for a Democrat can be a tactic. It is not an answer.

Talking with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! on October 4, journalist and filmmaker Danny Schechter expressed much the same idea in much politer terms. I did disagree with his first comment:
They were speaking not just to themselves, but to America. ... [T]hey missed an opportunity, I believe, to offer their analysis to the American people, who don’t get it in the media....
The idea of a rally is to rally. It is a time to rouse, to inspire, to demand, and to show there is support for those demands. It is a time to press your case to the powers-that-be and to show people who may be leaning in your direction that yes, they are not alone and others feel much the same way so come on in, the water's fine. It is not a time to "offer your analysis."

But what he said after that was, I think, spot on, especially as it relates not so much to the particular event itself but to the broader effort that should surround it:
[T]there was very little offered about what to do about all of this, except voting in November. And we all know that voting in November to return to Congress even people who are supposedly, you know, trying to do the right thing is very problematic, because we know that—how badly they’ve done. You know, even the Democrats are saying, you know, "Even if you don’t like us, vote for us, because we’re better than the other guys." That’s not much of an appeal.

So, where was the strategy? Where was the plan for the future? Where was the organizational vision for how to bring these people to stay together to work together to move for change? That was sort of missing, and I think it became, in a way, more of an event, more of a movie than a movement.
After Goodman mentioned that the people out on the grass "were more critical than the message from the stage," and "it was about how careful [the speakers] were not to criticize the administration," Schechter remarked on something I have said so damn many times (here, for example) it makes my teeth ache:
[I]f there’s pressure on the right and no pressure on the left, the left is not going to be taken seriously, as it has not been, because the administration feels they can take people like us, at large, for granted. ... But the people who want to see this administration really push forward a progressive agenda have to do more than just rally on the Mall. They have to organize. They have to try to build support for a program for change. And that, so far, has been missing.
And October 2 did very little to change that. And as long as the focus comes down to "vote for Democrats because OMIGOD! REPUBLICANS!" it's still not going to change.

Footnote: On another front, Jon Stewart's upcoming "Rally to Restore Sanity," with its "the left and right are both insane and wanting Bush administration officials prosecuted for their documented illegal wiretaps, illegal torture, and illegal wars is exactly the same as saying Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim" theme has obtained evidence of just how frivolous it is: Obama approves of it.
Obama said he was "amused" by Stewart's rally and that it's for people who expect some common sense and courtesy in their daily interactions.

The president said that having those voices lifted up is, as he put it, "really important."
And just how innocuous, how vacuous, how utterly unthreatening, how safe does an event have to be to get such an endorsement?


tadcf said...

Important Announcement: We Need You
Many people question what Obama has done, consider these accomplishments:
Decreased the national debt by 8% .
In addition to stabilizing the Dow at above 10,000.

Though 80% are protected by private health insurance or medicare, the health care
insurance program was created to help protect the rest.

The challenge to solving the unemployment problem is not just creating industries that will
out-source jobs overseas, but to create industries that won't. The old way just doesn't work any more. Do you really think the Republicans are that innovative?

Obama's administration reformed the rules of the Wall Street financial industries. It's not
enough—I agree—but at least the Congress got something positive accomplished amidst
Republican objections. To view a list of 100 of Obama accomplishments, see:

What would Republicans do if they got into office:

Republicans support reinstating Bush tax cut for millionaires and billionaires, which would
deny the government $700 billion—sorely needed to combat the deficit the Republicans left us.
Republicans say it will be reinvested in the economy. But will it? It didn't happen last time. What a gamble, based on a theory. I say 'a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush'--no pun intended.

Some of the most radical Republicans have seemed to suggest 'gun play' if they lose; or
suggest ending social programs—like medicare and social security—because they're too expensive, while profiting from these very programs all these years; or that science is creating mice with fully developed human brains. And now some anti-abortionists are even suggesting citizenship for zygotes. Do we really want persons like this representing the American people?.

How will they improve the economy? All they do is complain about 'tax and spend'
Democrats. What's their plan? The new plan is just the old plan. While the conservatives were in power, during the past 10 years, America's middle class income has been reduced by 5%!{01647C10-C1BB-11DF-BA89-00212804637C}

Many Conservatives have exhibited intolerance—similar to the KKK—currently directed
toward the Muslims and LGBT's, and sounds like they would limit freedom. This attitude is suggested by statements of 'Birthers', and a wealth of pictures depicting President Obama as a witch doctor or pimp or Hitler. Do you really want these kind of sentiments having an influence on our government? Changing the economy is not an easy job—ask Ronald Reagan. He had unemployment of about 9.8% for two years—and that was a mild recession compared to this near depression.

And Tea Party candidates are just going to be co-oped into the Republican Party. A vote for
them is just as good as a vote for the Republicans. It's them or us!

Dismantling or privatizing social security, medicare, and veteran's health care—how well
would that have worked, for example, when the bottom fell out of the stock market a couple of years
ago? We've all got a stake in this dog and pony show! Apathy is not allowed.

If you agree with what I've said here, go out and vote for the Democratic candidate in November, so we don't throw this country back into the Dark Ages.

LarryE said...

I frankly suspect this is spam triggered by the subject of the post, but since it actually makes an argument and doesn't contain any ads or bogus links, I let it through.

If "tadcf" actually exists as a person, which I doubt(the profile says "on Blogger since October 2010" and has 2 views - both mine), make yourself known!

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');