Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Civic minded

the peaceful protests in new york are nothing short of inspiring. just when you think America has forgotten its civic roots, 400,000 enthusiastic marchers demonstrate that they care about someething other than the next sale at walmart.

it's hard to tell what the outcome of these protests will be. americans tend to get uncomfortable seeing these things. It's a bit unseemly for some and being confronted with signs like, "bush lies, people die", may actually have the unintended consequence of helping bush. that really is a shame. what these protesters are doing is nothing short of heroic. they embody the freedoms that bush and his cronies refer to with their empty rhetoric, and yet the irony is they dismiss the freedom marchers as no good troublemakers.

it's quite sad that these demonstrations provoke such a negative response in your average citizen. think about it. if someone were to paint their body with a pro teams colors and spend 24 hours waiting in line to buy tickets to some big game, we would admire their behavior for showing such spirit. and yet showing spirit for politics creates a discomfort level most would rather do without. it'd be interesting to see what people really think democracy means.

you would think independent voters would be a tad bit interested in why bush provokes such a large protest. think about it. the right wing nuts absolutely despised clinton and yet there was nothing even close to the protest we saw on sunday during clinton's 1996 presidential run. if he was so bad, why couldn't the republicans generate a similar outpouring of protest after four years of clinton rule? i certainly believe that a lot of americans sincerely despised clinton, but they obvioiusly weren't that concerned for the welfare of the country to join together in large numbers to protest his presidency. the stakes are too high with bush, and that's why we just saw such a huge number of people come together and protest his four year legacy.



At August 31, 2004 at 11:08 AM, Blogger Master-Blaster and Lord Humungus said...

is one answer to the 'why didnt republicans march against clinton' question pure demographics ? that is, it was in chicago - a fairly liberal town, but moreover an urban center and thus likely to lean left. the GOP activist base is largely rural. i can't help but think that a whole lot of the protesters on the streets in NYC are new yorkers.

- LH

At September 1, 2004 at 12:08 PM, Blogger Pappagallo said...

I would agree with Master Blaster on most of his points. I agree that the main reason for such large protests as we've seen here in NYC, or in DC at the pro-choice rally, or here again in NYC for the anti-war rally (there really have been many of them), is indeed that the stakes are so high under this administration, and that Clinton didn't create the same sense of danger as Bush has for the average American.

I also wonder if conservatives would come out and protest if another administration had pushed as far to the left as Bush-Cheyney pushes to the right. Do they know how to organize like this? Doubtful, because in the end, conservatism is me-oriented, and liberalism is we-oriented, but that thought is unrefined so I could be wrong. I'm just putting that out there.

One last point: yesterday, on Tuesday afternoon-evening, I went to Union Square Park to marinate in the protesters' environment. The large crowd of 400,000 was indeed gone as it was no longer a weekend and people were back in their cities/countries, but there were many people, a hardcore number in the thousands, that was left to continue their message. These people, unfortunately, were not representative of the mainstream liberal America. I would say they were mainly very young, my impressions of the constituencies were anarchists, disenfranchised, capitalists, liberals, and a few communists, in that order. There were also crazies holding a banner that stated, "Bush-Cheney engineered 9/11". Right. Well, there are nut jobs on both sides.

Anyway, I saw impromptu marches where hundreds of police storm troopers appeared out of thin air, a la the Matrix, and where they arrested people for marching down city streets without permits. The police were highly organized and were trying to be polite to the onlookers. Still, it was a terrifying spectacle to observe and quite sad. This was the brunt of the protesters' message today: true democracy means that people have the right to protest and march wherever they please, and it's of no small coincidence that people are being arrested for peaceful democratic gestures when the republicans are in town. As an urban planner, however, I would note that it's very important for the city to be able to function. Anyway, I felt their idea was noble, but I didn't see anyone relating the underpinnings of the argument, and I felt they were deluding themselves as to the realistic ways of a city government that serves 8 million people if they hoped their friends wouldn't be arrested, but perhaps that was their youth speaking.

That's it from NYC.

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