Summer of Change
On Saturday, September 12, 2009 at least 60,000 Americans showed up in Washington DC to protest against their government. The marchers seemed to reflect a middle-of-the-road sampling of Americans; they did not need a union boss or a community activist or a preacher to lead them into battle, they just showed up -- and they appear to be an independent-minded set, many of whom seem to loathe Democrats and the GOP alike.
These protesters, labeled throughout the summer of 2009 as "liars," "astroturf," "racists," and "un-American," believe the federal government is too big. They see the federal government as too powerful. They know the federal government is corrupt. They want the federal government to protect them from threats foreign and domestic, and then to stand aside and let America thrive.
Please don't try to tell the protesters that the government is here to help. Please don’t fall back on reference to foibles of past administrations -- the people in DC on September 12, 2009 would most likely agree with a great deal of the criticism heaped on the Bush administration. But that was then and this is now, and our nation has no choice but to make this reality work for everyone. We are running short on time.
Until August 7, 2009 I had never attended a meeting with a political figure. On that day I, along with my three children, attended Congressman Frank Kratovil's (D) town hall meeting in Rock Hall, Maryland. The room was packed, and there was spirited debate about HR 3200. On September 10, 2009, Kratovil emailed me (and thousands of others) to say that he won't vote for "this bill.” He stated that it is time for a "fresh start.”
I told my youngest daughter, Georgia, about the email. She is thirteen. I told her that she had made a difference in attending the town hall meeting -- that the congressman had listened to us. Georgia’s response, "Yeah, yeah, okay dad, you already said that like at least six times." (She was correct.) Since that August meeting, my daughter asks more questions and appears very interested in all of the health care controversy. Recently she put a bumper sticker on her laptop. It reads "SARAH 2012." I asked her why. Georgia said she likes the way Sarah Palin talks. That’s as good a reason as any, I suppose.
Times are changing. We may be witnessing the beginning of a new political party. The old guard on both sides had better start to take these protesters seriously, the mainstream media also. Print media is in collapse -- who wants to read the party line day in and day out? Fox, a right leaning network that at least attempts to show all viewpoints, is destroying television news.
Denigrate us at your peril. Marginalize us if you must. But we are the people who read the bills our congressmen can't or won't. We run this place. And we will clean house in 2010.
Jimmy Reynolds is an artist who lives and works on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.