Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bliss: Fist pump

The crowd was firmly middle-class, mostly white and had nothing to lose. I mean that in the most obviously meaningless way possible. Nothing would be taken from them for showing up, for waving signs or listening to a handful of speakers, each with their own sort of vague agendas pinned to their sleeves, tell them exactly what they expected to hear.

It had been a while since I'd been to a political rally. I don't much consider myself political in the sense that I get too involved in the various ongoing debates. I have my views which tend to fall toward the "progressive," "lefty" side of things. I'm not a romantic about it and I don't get terribly upset.

A wise man once explained to me that popular American politics had essentially been reduced to being about property: what's mine and what's yours. The two major parties represented those interests, though he allowed that the Democrats were slightly more concerned about people. He described the whole process of election cycles and campaigns as being a bunch of fascinating noise. It was great to watch, but not worth actually getting involved with because nothing really changed.

George Carlin was a lot more jaded than I am, but I didn't vote in the last special election. I refused on the basis that the two clowns running for office were indistinguishable. I have no idea what I'm doing in another year. Mr. Obama isn't really doing it for me.

But I went to the rally because I'm trying to live a little kinder. I heard about the state workers in Wisconsin and thought it was a crock the governor, after getting the financial concessions he wanted for the state budget, decided it was also a good time to take their collective bargaining rights. It wasn't enough to get them to ask them to take a pay cut, they needed to be punished for being paid by tax dollars.

I do not have collective bargaining. I do not belong to a union, but I think people should have the power to negotiate for the collective betterment of themselves and I think it's wrong for the Governor of Wisconsin to try and stick it to his own people because he thinks he can get away with it.

At the capitol, people milled around the front steps wearing union shirts, Walmart American-wear and comfortable weekend clothes that seemed a little too clean to me. A few brought handmade signs. Some of them made very little sense and would make a junior high class president candidate cringe.

It was social. Friends from previous protests gathered to rabble rouse in three-part harmony. Everybody took pictures to document the occasion. I put a picture of my kid up on Facebook holding a sign I thought his grandparents and aunts would dig. He's a cute kid. I had to show him which end was up.

I doubt there were many Glen Beck fans in the bunch, though the clearly disturbed hovered on the fringes, staring and smiling at odd angles. The real crazies weren't toward the back. They stood up toward the front and when Jesses Johnston, the perennial token third party candidate, spoke of the armed revolt at Blair Mountain 90 years ago, a well-scrubbed assholes shouted out it might be time to do that again.

His wife gave him a hug.

We gave our time. We waved our signs and the organizer asked us to come back in two weeks. I made no promises. It sort of depends on what happens in Wisconsin.

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