Sunday, October 31, 2010

An Outsider's View of the 10-30 Colbert/Stewart "Restoring Sanity" Rally in DC

Today I went in to DC to work for an event. I did not go to DC for the rally, but my work ended up taking me to the area around the rally. Today was a busy event day in DC – the Stewart/Colbert rally, the Marine Corps Marathon (which is being run tomorrow) and the Washington International Horse Show, being held at the Verizon Center.

I exited the Metro Center to meet my group for orientation just as the rally was breaking up. The first thing that I noticed was how loud and rude most of the participants leaving the rally were. The only way I can describe it is to state there was an atmosphere of "Imperial smugness" in the air. Lots of people wearing Ivy league T-shirts and caps (Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, etc) and T-shirts stating “Educated, Not Ignorant” (ha-ha, take THAT peasants!)

I walked from Metro Center towards Gallery Place in Chinatown, as the Metro was closed due to overcapacity.

Attendees of the rally were making NO effort to follow traffic signals or stay on the sidewalks; 7th St NW was essentially shut down as crowds just walked up the middle of the street, taking their time, any traffic be damned. It was unbelievable, the arrogance. Trash was everywhere.

After orientation, I then walked through Gallery Place on my way towards the Capitol where I was to set up my station, walking past the Verizon center, which is hosting the annual Horse Show. I love horses; everyone in our family rides, and this is an event I usually attend. Anyways, as I was walking south on 6th St NW, more attendees from the rally were walking north, being loud and obnoxious. Many made attempts to try and spook the horses who were being shuttled from the staging area outside on 6th St to the arena. It was a disgusting display of childishness. It angered me.

I arrived at my station facing Penn Ave by the Capitol. The first thing I noticed in direct contrast to the Restoring Honor rally was the amount of trash. There was trash everywhere. In the park where I was stationed, large groups of people would sit down and rest with their signs and water bottles, and then get up to leave … leaving their signs, trash and water bottles behind them without even a glance back. I thought back to all those attendees on 8-28 who had honored the National Mall by taking their trash out with them.

The second thought that struck me was how rude and loud the rally goers were, again in direct contrast to the Beck attendees. Pushing, shoving .. I got run into by a stroller and bike on more than one occasion, elbowed and shoved too many times to count. I overheard several loud conversations about how great it was that they (the attendees) had gotten a “free” trip to DC. According to attendees from NYC I spoke to, there were over 250 buses from NYC (with dozens of people aboard), shipped here and paid for by Arianna Huffington. The buses were staged at RFK Stadium, hence the overcapacity and then later shutdown of the red line. DC got much quieter once the buses to NYC departed.

In front of the Canadian embassy, I also ran into a group of gay men from Toronto who had attended the rally and were being used as photo-props by the media and older Liberals attending the rally. (Everybody wanted their picture taken with them and their signs). Their signs had huge Canadian flags, and basically claimed Canada was the paragon of tolerance and virtue because gay marriage was legal. I got into a discussion with them, as they live in a part of Toronto near where I grew up, and the discussion turned to politics. I explained my conversion from social democrat who was approached about running for MP by Jack Layton as a standard bearer for the NDP to a staunch anarcho-capitalist/Libertarian married to a very conservative, strict Constitutionalist Marine. When they started talking to me about my “conversion”, they clearly became uncomfortable, esp when we talked about failed social policies, unsustainable entitlement programs and the Left's historical animosity towards free markets and entrepeneurship. Anyways, they told me that a number of Lefty-type groups had subsidized their buses to DC, as it was only $56 roundtrip from Toronto – DC pp for the trip, and that they were used as props front and center for advocacy groups at the rally. This is a clear example of how the Left operates and tried to manage the media message.

The third thought which pointed out the difference between the Beck rally and the Stewart rally, besides the mood, tenor and trash, were the signs. The signs I saw at the Stewart rally were rude, obnoxious and accusatory. Lots of foul language, and demonizing of Republicans and Tea Party members, using language and imagery I won’t repeat here. There were also a lot of signs demanding the legalization of marijuana, and demanding that people learn to "love muslims". Several signs, “So what if Obama’s muslim”, and “I’m muslim, so you better learn to love me”, and many, “America isn’t just white and Christian”. And “f&ck h8ters” with pictures of Palin, Cantor, etc. ???? Not only were there many signs demanding legalization of marijuana, I can assure you there was a great amount of usage of the “special herb” as well. Again – a definite contrast to the quiet, respectful crowd of 8-28.

At my perch in John Marshall plaza near the Canadian embassy, facing Penn Ave, I had a good viewpoint to observe behavior and the crowd dynamics. I was working a check point for a scavenger hunt/race and handing out labeled candy as one of the “tokens” that teams had to retrieve once they reached my station to prove they had figured out the clue and arrived at the checkpoint. The number of Stewart rally-goers who came up to me and demanded candy was un-bee-levable!, and their conduct was beyond childish.

“I want candy” (late 20-ish man).

“I’m sorry, the candy is for a race. I only have enough for each team member. I can’t give it out to the public”.

“I just want one piece.”

“I can’t help you.”

“But I have low blood sugar. It’s only one piece.”

At this point, I was frustrated as he wouldn’t give up. He didn’t need a piece of candy, it was a game, and he thought he would hector and harass me into giving in to him – a grown man, begging for a piece of candy.

I then turned to him, and said in a loud voice, “How typical of a liberal – always looking to mooch something from someone”. Heads turned. He laughed and said, “You’re right”, and walked away.

Just then, a team arrived and I apologized to them for the outburst. They laughed and said – Hey, you’re right. We agree – we’re the Young Republicans from (university name redacted).

At about this time, some young ladies who had been working as staff at the rally approached me and started up a conversation. Quickly, the convo turned to Obama, the birth certificate issue, debasement of the currency, Obamacare, the national debt, why capitalism is great, laissez faire markets, Austrian economics, etc. The young people voluntarily stayed around for 1 ½ – 2 hours to chat and debate. A youngish black recent grad who had been working the event stated, “Why don’t we know this? You’re making clear statements based on fact, and without any malicious intent. It’s clear to me your opposition to Obama is based on his policies and track record, and has nothing to do with his skin color!”. They all talked about even though they knew they were going to have to pay withholdings, had no idea THAT MUCH would be taken out of their paychecks. As one put it, I have no problem paying taxes, but I am upset that so much waste goes on, and I have nothing to show for it. We still have the same social problems we had 15 years ago.

Many of these young people worked for "non profit advocacy groups" and it was clear although they idealistically liked the "Mission statement" of their organization, they were becoming frustrated that no real results/meaningful change in their clients lives were being seen. We chatted about that, and I discussed some of the meaningful, privately funded, small-scale, local projects that I had worked on in the past, and had made positive impact in the lives of those who chose to take advantage of that. As I stated, "Change only comes if and when your clients are committed to change. You can throw as much money and support at it as you want, but unless THEY choose to change the direction of their lives, it will never happen".

They agreed that this was what they were seeing in their own "advocacy" work.

We also talked specifically about Obama, the "community organizer" and their disappointment with the "Hope and Change" agenda. I then asked them a question -- you voted to elect someone to the highest office in the land, to lead us out of this huge financial and moral morass we are in. We needed the best the country had to offer. Obama stated his experience as a "community organizer" in the south side of Chicago, and worked there for several years. How are the residents there doing now?

Absolute silence. I could see they were thinking. Deeply.

Bingo! The young lady who started asking about government waste and corruption wanted to know more about what was really going on. This young girl “got” it. So I dug around in my purse, and wrote out some links for her to look up– including shadowstats, mises.org and Hillbuzz – and told her, (channeling Glenn Beck) – don’t believe me, do your own research!

These young people that gathered around me and wanted to get into debate were polite, respectful and thoughtful. They understand that they are going to be burdened with unsustainable debt. They are beginning to understand that Obama and the Democratic policies are smoke and mirrors. I hope that they do go and do their own research. As I explained to them today – You went to the Stewart-Colbert rally to be entertained. Stay away from Democratic bread and circuses, and do your homework independent of the MSM.

And the Stewart-Colbert rally was heavily commercialized in comparison to the 9-12 and 8-28 rallies. Lots of swag handed out by Yahoo! & other corps, clearly was a political and Dem GOTV effort.

To recap:

* the SC attendees were far more smug, rude and obnoxious than the Beck attendees.
* The signs at the SC rally were rude, bad language and accusatory and nasty.
* The SC attendees left a trail of detritus behind them, including discarded water bottles and signs on the Metro cars.
* My sense is that the majority of people were bused in, on completely free or heavily subsidized transport, including the busload of gay married men from Toronto used a props.
* The rally felt like a gathering of grievances and disaffected people, not a motivational rally.
* Young people are concerned about their future and are waking up.
* Even adults at the rally (including a grown 50+ year old man) tried to mooch candy from a stranger, and whined and complained when told they couldn’t have a freebie. It was ridiculous, but completely captured the mood and attitude of the day.