Congress shall make no law respecting Ö the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- 1st Amendment to the US Constitution
My family was part of the FreedomWorks demonstration in Washington D.C. on 12-Sep-2009.
We came up on Thursday 10-Sep, and just hung around the hotel for the first day, as the airplane trip was the first for our not quite one year old grand-daughter Jasmyne Rose. As you can see, she was delighted with the airplane, the Metro and the hotel:
Friday we spent at the National Museum. Jasmyne really appreciated the exhibits, but demonstrated even more appreciation for the museum store:
But on Saturday 12-Sep we got up early to go to the demonstration itself. We were very excited about this, and we had our signs ready:
The one on the left is my sign, as I fully believe in then Senator Hillary Clinton's statement that it is patriotic to dissent from your government, while strongly disagreeing with Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, and the many other people who are upset about Americans demonstrating today.
Our son Lucas is pushing the carriage, with the shirt that says "Who is John Galt?", as he really likes Ayn Rand. Our daughter Michelle is holding our grand-daughter Jasmyne's sign, which is the complete text of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as her sign which responds to the "I Serve" video which was put out by advocates of President Obama to go along with his message to America's school children on 8-Sep. Jasmyne is waving her flag, as well as holding her American Eagle doll and her capitalist pig doll. My wife Vivian has a fairly direct message to all of our elected officials, regardless of political party or agenda.
We were all supposed to gather near the White House at 9:00 AM, organize ourselves by states, and then march down Pennsylvania Ave to the Capitol building starting around 10:00 AM. It didn't quite work out that way. J
By 9:15 AM there were so many people that the crowd overflowed the area in front of the White House, and we couldn't even get near it:
So people just started marching on the Capitol:
It was a very well behaved crowd, with an incredible number of very creative signs:
What struck me was the incredible range of ages in the crowd. We expected a fair number of "seasoned citizens", but were gratified at the number of young people who were present, both with their parents and on their own:
About half-way to the Capitol, Jasmyne got a little tired:
But we eventually made it to the Capitol.
There were speakers on the stage, but it was very difficult to hear them from where we were (and impossible to hear them from behind the statues nearer the National Mall). But we had a lot of fun watching the signs of the people slowly filtering past us:
There has been some debate on the number of people at the rally. Some news organizations were talking about "a few thousand", while other groups were estimating numbers greater than two million people. You could pretty much discern whether the stories accompanying those estimates were contemptuous or laudatory of the purposes of the march based on the estimates of the crowd, with most of the "main stream media" low-balling the count and the boosters of the event estimating very large numbers...
But based on my experience at Joe Robbie (now Landshark) Stadium and Miami Dolphin's games, where I have seen what were a definitively counted 75 thousand people, I personally saw approximately 250 thousand people in the pale blue areas. From news reports I know there were many other people in other areas (mostly down Pennsylvania Ave and onto the National Mall), but I didn't see them so I don't count them. We were standing on the "X".
Here are pictures of the crowd around us, plus pictures of people around the pool immediately behind us (the light blue to the left of the "X"):
But however many people were there, it was a lot of people...
As we always do when we visit rallies like this, we asked people what state they were from. Texas and Florida were very well represented, but we had people from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The only ones missed were Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia, and I am sure there were people there from all of these states, but we didn't meet them.
The one demographic which was woefully under-represented was African-American. We saw a total of eight black people all day, and that includes two of the speakers on the podiums. This is truly sad, and we need to do something to reach out and expand our "big tent". But it also includes two entrepreneurs who were selling flags and water to the marchers, so considering that they were opportunistic capitalists, I believe that they were with us in spirit...
But as much fun as it was, eventually we had to start back. But even while we were leaving, more and more people were coming:
The best signs all day were talking about the deficit, and one directly addressing President Obama, who wanted to confront the opposition to his proposals. Well, be careful what you ask for, you just might get your wish:
Later the people that did not support the purposes of the attendees tried to paint everyone here as racist. I find this portrayal to be sad, as name-calling demonstrates conclusively that the person using invective has run out of any other methods, and is reduced to insults instead of engaging in actual debate with real facts and persuasive arguments. I and my family are not racists, and oppose policies that are currently being proposed by some people who are white, black, brown and yellow, as well as support policies that are being proposed by other people who are white, black, brown and yellow. I did not see any racist signs, nor any that focused on President Obama's race, as opposed to his policies. Further, if you check out the Gathering of Eagles pictures, you will find many more pictures of President Bush being hung in effigy, repeated signs of "Fuck Bush", and other truly offensive portrayals of a sitting President, than were seen here. In my opinion, the people at this rally were focused on policies being proposed by many people, with their focus being President Obama, but not on anyone personally.
I am glad that we went. It totally points out how ridiculous the accusations of fascism and tyranny are, when you have thousands of people wandering down the main street of the nations capitol holding signs calling for a radical change in political direction, and they are being *protected* by the authorities instead of being "disappeared", the way they would be under the Taliban or Che or Chavez or Castro or Ahmadinejad or any of the other leaders who are praised by the current administration, as opposed to the insults they use against their fellow Americans. The Bill of Rights works well, allowing both sides to express themselves freely, and thatís a good thing. I love this country!