We’re still trying to make sense of the spectacle that was last week’s DNC in Denver, and the same goes for many of the city’s residents. Our friend Karl Christian had some thoughts on the proceedings, and has agreed to let us repost this article, written on Day 2 of the DNC.
This is actually not my first political convention, but my third (2000 in Philadelphia with the Republican Convention and 2004 in Boston with the Democratic Convention.) I just always happen to live where the political action apparently likes to move to. Conventions are following me like a stalker. May need some form of mace. So, this is all old hat, but it is interesting seeing the wide-eyed reactions from my Denver friends to everything that is suddenly going on. Apparently, nothing this big has hit Denver in a very long time (apparently since the G8 conference about 10 years ago.) You might think that Stanley Cup or World Series run were big, but you have seen nothing.
Yes, there are cops, COs, and SWAT patrols everywhere. The whole downtown looks like a demilitarized zone, with checkpoints and all to the point where K was nervous to even jay walk. Yes, you can happily watch the entire security patrol clampdown as you sip your Jamba Juice, kind of feel secure, and incredibly uneasy at sudden realization of the police state you live in.
While K and I were walking downtown on Saturday night, we saw a couple wearing very pro-Republican shirts. Now, anyone can say or wear anything they want and still happily look like a fool. You are allowed to do that in this country, just as I am free to mock you. Now, I believe that they thought they were being ‘edgy’ and ‘outrageous’ wearing these shirts, but in actuality, they just looked like racist assholes. The man’s shirt said: ‘IQ > Shoe Size. Vote Republican.’ The woman’s shirt: ‘ Who wants BO in the White House. Vote Republican.’ Both shirts had ‘Reelect McCain in 2012’ on the back. Yes, of course the couple was older, white, and had the same self-satisfied smirks on their faces.
I went downtown Sunday morning to meet up with K, who was watching the ‘Recreate 68’ anti-war march. My first thought was “Why, the hell, would anyone ever want to recreate ‘68? There were riots in ‘68 that would play right into Republicans hands’ (even Rush Limbaugh commented that he wanted riots in Denver.) I feel the same way about the hard core Clinton supporters. Yes, your candidate lost (and arguments can be said that she shot herself in the foot as well.) That sucks, but just give it up. Your continuing bitching about it plays into their hands: A candidate that wants to take away woman’s rights. Think about it. Do you really want to vote against your own self-interest to make a point? Who’s the fool there?
So anyway, I rode my bike down there and because of the press of the crowds I found myself in the counter-protest crowd. Yes, I was watching the parade with the hardcore Republicans, all of which were yelling “Support the Troops” and “USA!” while waving patriotic signs such as: Dissent is patriotic? You are backstabbing! (which makes me wonder, ‘what is okay dissent? Writing a particularly strong worded letter to the editor?’), Osama wants you to oppose the War on Terror, Gen Petraeus for Man of the Year, and (of course) You want real change? Accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior!! The one sign I saw that I thought was funny, sad, and exhibited without any sort of irony (which is the hallmark of the true believer ) was a photo of George Orwell with the quote “Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense” George Orwell? The pro-republican, pro-government masses are using George Orwell as a symbol? Really? Really???? Then again, most of their slogans (“Peace through strength“) sound incredibly Orwellian. I don’t think they actually get it.
I found it all pretty amusing, especially at looking at who the counter-protesters were. All of them were white, middle age, and generally over weight (just as most of the protesters were white, young, and covered in tattoos.) After the parade moved on, people moved to the podium as there were a couple of pro-American speeches from the counter protesters. I stuck around cause I like to know what they are thinking. The one speech I caught was from an older woman saying how brave the troops are and how much we have to thank them for. Now, I utterly agree with that. My problem with that statement though is coming from these people. The reason is that this group only agrees to support the troops that think like them. Any troop that comments this war is fucked is quickly branded a traitor. For example, I saw a couple t-shirts proclaiming ‘Proud Vietnam Vet against John Kerry.’ I’m pretty sure John Kerry is a vet and has medals to prove it. I found all this amusing because (again, without any sort of irony) the old man wearing that shirt was also wearing a sticker supporting the fight against Alzheimer’s. Who said irony is dead?
What also bothers me about the counter-protesters (besides their blind trust in the government) is the hypocrisy. I’m positive that if Obama is elected, these pro-government masses will suddenly discover… as if a blinding religious revelation… that dissent IS patriotic. Instead of George Orwell, they will suddenly start carrying posters with Thomas Jefferson claiming that the tree of liberty must often be bathed in the blood of patriots and that dissent is the highest form of patriotism!!! Sigh…
As I left the counter-protesters to bike off, I told one of the sign wavers that he was holding his sign upside down. He was quite grateful.
So, what about the actual protesters? Well, I had a lot of problems with them as well. A large majority of them had the same old thing: No Blood for Oil, Bush is a War Monger, and such. My problem with them is that these people were the far Left. I had a conversation with a Republican friend the other day (one that was hoping for a riot) and I commented that one of the things about the Democratic Party is that they will protest themselves at a drop of a hat. These people were an example of that. Nothing the Democrats will ever do will ever satisfy the far left wing. These are the pro-Nader anarchists. These are the people that want to burn down the government and have nothing they want to replace it with. These are the people who simply want to destroy.
And they are allowed their views… I’m just concerned about anything that might let McCain slip on in to the White House. He’s a guy I once kinda respected (in 2000), but don’t recognize him or views in 2008.
I know I’m being naïve, but I wondered to K when the political discussion in this country boiled down to angry shouting slogans at one another. Of course, K patted me on the head and reminded me that it has always been this way. Look at 1968.
After the protest, we wandered over to the park. There was a lot of celebration, drum circles, people dancing, and such; as well as many little political stands set up, handing out buttons and pamphlets to people. The funniest one (in my mind) was the anti-smoking booth. Aside from the pamphlets, there was a black lung and a bottle of tar (this is how much gunk is in your lungs!!!) on the table. One of the women I was with just quit smoking and asked the kid behind the counter if he smoked. He paused, looked around, and replied, “I do, but I don’t tell the kids that.” Hilarity ensues.