Oh Great. Just What We Wanted. More Protestors.

Cindy Sheehan’s “Camp Casey” is moving to DC this September to become “Camp Democracy” at “Fort Fedup” on the Mall. Great.

Just great.

Another national movement who seeks redress from their government through means that seek to deprive the local populace of their resources. It’s not just that I disagree with Sheehan (though I do), or that I think she’d do well with some real grief counseling (which she could use), or even that those who are using her grief for their own personal needs ought to be ashamed (which they should), but that for the most part, movements that descend on DC do little for those of us who actually live here.

For us, they are sound and fury often signifying nothing. It’s not that we’re not involved in issues, far from it, but those of us who are here realize how little an encampment in front of the White House or the Capitol or on the Mall do. Despite the massive immigration protests in May and April, where are we on the issue? Nowhere. Despite massive marches on cities across the US, are we any closer to resolving Iraq? Nope. WTO and World Bank protests? No results.

But yet, still they come and march on DC. Seeking redress.

What will they find?


David Swanson from the Camp Democracy group has said they’ll be between 3rd and 7th on the Mall, and also between the American History Museum and the Washington Monument. Apparently he also has an inflated idea of how many people will show up. Here’s hoping they can keep out of the kickball/softball games.

16 Comments so far

  1. Carl (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 11:21 am

    So what should Cindy Sheehan and others seeking redress from their government do? Sit down, shut up and take it?

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 11:26 am

    Isn’t this what Representatives are for, Carl? Senators? Instead of camping out on our Mall, why not work with those who have the power to change things?

  3. Don (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

    They don’t represent us in a vacuum, they need it made clear to them what the people they are (theoretically) representing want. Protests, letter writing campaigns, phone calls, websites and lobbying organizations are how the people’s stance is brought to their attention. I expect Mike and Stacey might have some words to say about the value of the role those last two play in convincing our reps to reflect our will in the creation of law.

    What’s the alternative otherwise? We are only allowed to communicate our wishes every 2/4/6 years? If a large number of us change our mind – as seems to have happened with Sheehan’s issue, for example – we’re not allowed to communicate that fact to our reps?

    Personally I’ll take Sheehan and her gang over the patcholie-stinking hippies that the World Bank seems to bring out. Aside from the fact that the hippies seem to hate indoor plumbing as much as financial organizations they don’t understand, they also seem to be a much more disruptive force to local goings-ons. I’ve seen no sign so far that Sheehan’s protests have had the kind of transit crippling effects as World Bank or even Immigration reform protests have.

    More specifically to Sheehan herself, I don’t get the negative reaction to her deciding that her personal experience meant enough to her that she’d devote her life to having some impact. Norma “Roe” McCorvey changed her mind later in life and joined the pro-life movement, a decision informed by her personal experiences. Oppenheimer worked to try to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Countless other people have devoted themselves to having an impact on the world because of the actions or sufferings of family members, either through action, money or establishment of foundations.

    If it’s just that she’s decided that being a public spectacle is the best way to get what she wants, well, why is it okay for campaigning politicians, auto manufacturers, lobbyists, songwriters and everyone who has ever written a Letter to the Editor of their local paper to make a public statement to try to change other people’s minds…. but not her?

    Personally I question her effectiveness – I think she and her folk are primarily preaching to the choir. I don’t see how anyone can claim she doesn’t have every credential to show she’s got a right to her opinion, though, and we’re the land of opportunity – if this is how she wants to spend her life, who are we to tell her otherwise?

  4. DCeiver (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 1:02 pm

    “Isn’t this what Representatives are for?”

    On paper, sure. But the job of a representative is basically now to do as little as possible to serve the nation and their constituents and still remain in power. And what’s their rate of re-elect? Ninety something percent? It’s not that our elected officials CAN’T help us, it’s that they WON’T and DON’T. Every last one of those guys, both sides of the aisle, PURE SCUM.

  5. DCeiver (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

    I think Don is close to the mark in wondering about the efficacy of the protest. The art of political demonstration has suffered mightily in recent years, and while Sheehan’s tactics capture more support than, say, the black-masked hoodlums that come out whenever the IMF restructures a loan agreement, looking for urban thrills to take back to their suburban enclaves, I still find her tactics to much of a shambling mess to connect with the mainstream.

    When I replay the images of, say, MLK’s famous march in Washington, a few things jump out at me:

    1. Everyone in the crowd looks like they’ve bathed.
    2. The crowd appears to be dressed in their Sunday finest.
    3. The crowd spends a lot of time listening to a structured presentation than shouting and sloganeering.

    That’s just first impression. But the effect is pretty powerful. Everything looks dignified. The crowd looks resolute, calm, steady. It’s not chaotic or sprawling. What it conveys is a sense of righteousness and permanence. And with everyone dressed well, behaving professionally, and listening intently to educated oration, it looks like the people you live with.

    I support everyone’s right to be, you know, punk as FUCK. But effective protest always connects with the mainstream. So, get some soap. Learn to stand still. Understand that silence can be effective. And, hey, A.N.S.W.E.R…stop pretending Maoism is cool. It’s not.

  6. DC Tax Paying Resident (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

    Funny how a neo conservative VA resident picks the Cindy Sheehan Protest to express their *sincere* concern for the ‘local populace [and]their resources’, when they themself were so dismissive of the DC Commuter Tax.

    Just yet another example of how non District residents try to use the District as a pawn in their own personal agendas.

  7. Don (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

    Tom and I diverge on a number of political issues and perspectives, but he’s by no means a neocon.

  8. Tiff (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

    Funny, most neocons think Tom is a commie pinko leftist.

  9. wayan (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 3:38 pm

    Good point DCTPR – Tom does get all up in the grill of protesters who may slow his commute in/out of DC, but at least he gets up in the grill of all the protesters, regardless of his neo-con leanings.

    Still, I agree with his basic premise – no one cares even if she is protesting in DC. Or no one that isn’t already a believer in her cause. The Code Pink fasting in Lafayette? Only important to the dozen people there. http://dc.metblogs.com/archives/2006/07/fasting_white_h.phtml

    Mass fasts at their respective Representative’s home offices, arguably much more effective.

  10. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 3:41 pm

    Even if I was a Neocon, don’t I get to be concerned about the area in which I live? So I can’t afford some nice U St. digs like some folks can, does that automatically disqualify me from having an opinion about DC, even when I live in what was nominally DC 100 years ago?

    I absolutely dislike the notion that just because I can’t afford to live in the district proper that makes me completely unable to have an opinion about it.

  11. Krempasky (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

    Must. Resist. Commenting. Head. Exploding.


  12. Don (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 4:06 pm

    At the risk of being pedantic, if you post a comment about resisting commenting then you haven’t really resisted commenting.

  13. angel (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

    to ask a practical question: any idea where exactly she’ll be camped out? as one who particpates in a sport on the mall, i’m a little concerned about how it will effect all the softball, flag football, kickball, etc. games that are played.

    any idea how i can find this out?

  14. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 11:18 pm

    Angel, that’s a great question. I’ll try to find out.

  15. Krempasky (unregistered) on July 10th, 2006 @ 11:57 pm

    Count it a tiny defeat, Don – certainly not what I’m naturally inclined to do.

  16. wayan (unregistered) on July 11th, 2006 @ 1:04 am

    So I can’t afford some nice U St. digs like some folks can

    I call bullshit, Tom. The subject of a whole other post, but if I can afford to live here, if my dirt poor immigrant neighbors can afford to live here, so could you.

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