Monday, September 25, 2006

Musings of a Protester

Last Friday I did something new - I participated in an organized political protest. The general objective of the protest was to counterbalance the media impact of Dick "VP of Torture and Misinformation" Cheney's visit to Rochester. It turned out that Cheney raised $180,000 for Randy Kuhl's congressional race, and the protest turned out 200 or so people who taunted the fund raiser attendees and chanted a variety of slogans while being carefully watched by a phalanx of burly police officers and who knows who else.

I carried a "Massa for Congress" sign through the streets of Rochester, and I chanted the chants while smiling at the well-heeled prospective beneficiaries of Republican largesse, who will certainly pad their wallets if Kuhl gets re-elected. But somehow I did not fit into the group that surrounded me - me in my khaki's and turtleneck and rain parka. The others looked like protesters from the 60's - wild young people with mohawks, older guys with beards wearing jeans and t-shirts, "Raging Grannies" in old fashioned clothes and make-up, gay and lesbian activists, advocates for the disabled, people protesting the Medicare drug "donut hole". It seems that regular people do not protest, regardless of how vehement they might feel about someone as outrageous as Dick Cheney. I was disappointed.

I met a lady who had retired before I did from the same company. She was very sweet, but she wasn't too clear on why she was there. When I asked her, she said something like "I go to protests." Apparently there are generic protesters who enjoy the energy emitted from groups of marching, chanting people.

There is a creepy feeling associated with being closely observed by police while you exercise your constitutional rights, and I felt it keenly. Also, people with cameras were filming us, and my picture will probably get entered into some kind of "enemies" database. I guess being known as an enemy of Dick Cheney is an honor of some kind...makes me feel like a distant cousin of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I suppose. Somebody's got to say "no" when the government starts torturing people and limiting their civil rights. Last week it was me.

So, I doubt that the motley 199 plus me protesters had much impact - Cheney raised almost $1,000 for each one of us. But it was kind of fun to engage in the kind of protest that once started the American revolution - people in the streets, demanding justice. Hopefully, come November, America will be at least a little teensy bit more peaceful as a result.

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