September 01, 2004

Perspectives on the RNC in NYC

Can I admit that I was thrilled to hear that some half a million people (more or less) participated in a protest this past Sunday? After reading the stories from Miami last year during the WTO and knowing that the Republicans would like nothing better than pictures of riots to show ordinary Americans that the anti-Bush crowd are "hippies", "weirdos" and "anti-American", I feared that the protests might spiral out of control. And I have no doubt that some of the Republican right wingers would happily act as provocateurs so as to create the situation they wished to see.

Yet, Sunday's protests were very peaceful and extremely powerful. The hundreds of thousands of people that turned out for it truly represented the very best of America. Our forefathers felt strongly that the right to assemble was an essential tool in maintaining a democracy. They had placed this Right in the First Amendment as they knew that one of the very best ways for a free people to express their rights was to guarantee the right to assemble to influence the political process. Too many people forget the power that is incumbent in meeting with your fellow citizens to express your political views and that the sheer numbers assembling give politicians a sense of the intensity as well as the popularity of this view.

There have been some great stories this week about the Americans that showed up in New York City to express their opposition to George W Bush and the Republicans who back him. The Nation's TomDispatch has a wonderful piece about a number of people that came to New York and why they came. As he said, the mood was more somber than the last large protest in NYC before the start of the Iraq War, but decidedly more determined as well. Many came without their kids, deciding that it was better to come out despite their fear because to be cowed was to be shut down. And they were *not* going to be cowed.

It was a measure of this march that children in strollers, a mark of so many prewar marches, were few and far between. There's probably no better barometer of the sense of embattlement, of danger people felt, even when deciding to make the march.

... snip ...

[From the Anesthesiologist]: "I went to services this morning, then got into our car and came down here from upstate. It doesn't matter to me how large this demonstration is. I'm here representing myself and my wife and sixteen year-old son. He didn't come. There were a lot of concerns about safety. Do I think that the Republicans have put instigators here? You better believe it. I'm a child of the sixties.

"If I can represent a more somber mood here, I'm glad to do it. I want to say that you can be a person who looks like a Republican and still doesn't have neoconservative values.

"We can't be intimidated. It's still the greatest country in the world, even though we have a president I strongly disagree with."

Over at the American Street, Kevin corralled several NYC bloggers who are giving a personal and topical sense of what it is like when the Republicans come to town. Rebecca Danner tells us why this convention creates such anger and how that led to her dumping her raw feelings on some of the well-heeled Republican delegates.

And then if you really want to see how well this convention is going, don't miss Michael Bérubé's take on Monday and Tuesday sessions. It is clear that the Republicans are telling a compelling story, capable of converting the most diehard Liberal into a sensible right winger. Yet sometimes, it does seem that the switch to Republicanism is occasionally a bit hard for Michael.

I do have two quibbles with Arnold's speech. One, he said, "you don't reason with terrorists, you defeat them." Maybe this is one of those moments where he's respectfully disagreeing with the President, who recently told us (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here) that we can't win a war on terrorism in a way that winnably defeats terrorists because this is a different kind of conflict than the kind of conflict in which you win a war, but that doesn't mean we won't win. But I think Schwarzenegger should have consulted the President about this. And two, he said that "we do not fight for imperialism, we fight for human rights." I know I've only been a Republican for 24 hours now, but I have to press the "respectful disagreement" button here. Screw human rights– I'm in it for the imperialism. You may be happy right where you are in Sacramento, Arnold, but me, I want one of those no-bid contracts.

Well, we can only hope that he continues to enlighten us on why we all should be Republicans now. And besides, someone has to watch the speeches. Thanks, Michael, for watching this convention so closely. I know I appreciate your dedication.

Posted by Mary at September 1, 2004 12:02 AM | Elections | Technorati links |

Are we going to have to do an intervention on Michael's behalf?
Exposure to those kind of toxic substances can be harmful to developing hearts and minds.

As we used to say at the lumber mill:
'Don't worry, Friday's comin', then you won't have to deal with this crap.'

Posted by: David Aquarius at September 1, 2004 09:43 AM

Great piece in Tapped on why we won't being seeing much of the Bush twins again.

Posted by: Ron In Portland at September 1, 2004 10:53 AM

Mary, you linked to the American Street generally, but not to any particular post.

Posted by: natasha at September 2, 2004 04:05 AM