I spent several hours yesterday participating in the rally outside the Drexel University location where the Democratic debate was held. This senior citizen found it an interesting and tiring first time experience. At least I think it was the first time, I cannot recall ever attending another political rally where the supporters of competing candidates were present and competing with each other.
It tiring for obvious reasons. First, its been a long time since I spent that much time on my feet and second because I found myself among the three to five people standing in near or in front of the rest of the Hillary supporters playing cheerleader, minus the acrobatics.
Even though the debate did not start until 9 PM. The rally/rallies started much earlier, and by the time I arrived at 4:30 in the afternoon various groups had already staked out positions along the side of the street opposite the entrance to building in which the debate was held. I am not sure where the Edwards supporters were located, but initially other Hillary supporters, along with Obama and Biden supporters arranged ourselves in sometimes multiple groups.
For the first few hours it was for the most part as such rallies should be in my opinion, good natured even friendly competition between the supporters of the various candidates.
Hillary’s campaign had a supply of bottled water and Philly soft pretzels to keep her troops going and on more than occasion that I am aware of, a supporter would obtain water, a pretzel or both for a member of the opposition who was in need of sustenance. Since upon at least one occasion the young Hillary supporter who was distributing the water observed a pretzel and the bottle he had just dispensed being handed to opposition, I suspect some at least some of Hillary’s organizers knew of these goings on. I am sure Hillary would have condone such compassionate action.
My age may have also played a part when it became obvious that my cheerleading duties were taking a toll and Biden supporter inquired about my well being and then made way for me to get to the sidelines where I could rest for a few moments before she resumed cheering for her candidates. She even came back after a couple of minutes to make sure the cramped muscle I had mentioned to her was beginning to behave itself and she lent me her hand when I had difficulty rising from my squatting position on the sidewalk.
Delaware being very close to Philly there was an abundance of Biden supporters there and they were well organized. They also had a excellent cheerleader. Whether Biden’s organizers had foreseen the need or such a person or he had simply recognized the need and stepped forward, I do no know, but he was good. So good that at one point I decided to take advantage of his talent and turn him into a Hillary cheerleader by answering his, “Who do we want?” with a loud “Hillary”. Other Hillary supporters caught on to what I did and joined me. And in short order he found himself leading both groups in our good natured efforts to out shout each other.
Another high point of the day was when Wesley Clark arrived to cheer us on. He addressed us from the steps of a five foot ladder. I shall probably think of him standing on that ladder whenever I have occasion to make use of its twin that resides in my hall closet.
With the one exception of one tall Obama supporter who insisted walked up to Hillary supporters and verbally assaulted them and their candidate, friendly rivalry was how much of the day went until shortly before the debate was do to start.
It friendly rivalry changed with the arrival of a group marching down the middle of the street in what that initially seemed to be mixed bag supporters of a single payer health care system with a sprinkling of Gravel and Kunich supporters. They were led by street puppeteers and drums and others in costume in what initially appeared to be the addition of a Halloween celebration. As they cane to the area where the bulk of Hillary’s supporters were located it became apparent they were anything but some sort of celebration.
When they got to where we were located the caricatures and Hillary hate signs were apparent. That is when they stopped marching, the drum roll became more incessant and louder and they and began pushing us back behind the barricade so our cheerleaders had no place to stand and our shouts of support for Hillary could not be heard above the drum. At one point when it became apparent Hillary’s organizer had no plans for countering such an attack so I suggested to that we take to the street ourselves as a few Obama and Edwards support who had joined the marchers had done. Too their credit I don’t recall seeing any Biden supports join that throng. Many of us did but many of the Hillary haters among the marchers were really rude and nasty..
The sense of camaraderie and meeting of friendly adversaries that had dominated most of the day was destroyed and by that time our numbers had begun by dwindle by people departing to watch the debate. I too decided to leave least I or someone else lost control and the street it turned into a real battlefield. It never did that I am aware of but the danger was there and I was left with the feeling that someone planned for such hostility to be there!
The only thing that prevented to the day from ending on a completely sour note was the sense of camaraderie and caring I found after I made my way to the bar and grill where Team Hillary had planned for her supporters to meet and watch the debate. As it happened I did not stay very long After a ginger ale, a half-glass of wine and learning it was a two hour debate, I left and made my way home where I fell asleep on the couch almost as soon as I tuned into the post debate commentary.
It should have been a pleasant but tiring day, but that group of marchers ruined that. Why they were allowed to take over the street, I do not know. No other group was allowed that privilege. Except for cheerleaders the bulk of other groups had to stay behind the barricades, even when Wesley Clark arrived to cheer us on. Has the politics of hate become so common place that its followers are free to disregard the rules by which the rest of us abide and are they being granted free reign to disrupt and suppress other people’s freedom of expression? If so, our nation is in more dire straights that even Bush and the neo-cons could envision. It wasn’t neo-cons suppressing my right to heard when I voiced my support of the candidate of my choice it was a bunch of irresponsible representatives of the far, far-left. At least I hope that was who organized that march, any other Democrats who took part in it should be ashamed of themselves. It definitely was not an example of the “politics of hope”. The tear you see tear below is but one of many I will be weeping for our nation if that is what “the politics of hope” has become.