An Open Letter

Dear Anti-Bush protester type people:

I realize that you are especially discontented with the outcome of this election, and feel that as a result, you must protest at the inauguration. Democracy thrives on the presence of many voices, so good for you. Dress warmly, and wear layers. But I have one simple request.

Don’t be assholes.

Oh yes, I realize that you have a Constitutionally-protected right to be assholes, but just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. On Inauguration Day, thousands upon thousands of people will be trying to get to work or otherwise go about their lives. Most of these people didn’t vote for George W. Bush anyway. We will be picking our way through the congestion caused by tighter security, there will likely be bomb-sniffing dogs on the Metro and extra snipers situated around the festivities. Streets will be cordoned off for the parade and accompanying protests. We will experience higher-than-normal levels of commute frustration as traffic, security measures, and tourons will be at their highest level in 4 years. So don’t feel that you have to add to the confusion by trying to block streets that haven’t already been cordoned off for your safety, obstruct people from passing on sidewalks, screaming at passers-by, or otherwise making a nuisance of yourself.

You see, the seat of US national government is also our home. So don’t crap on our couch, okay?


(Originally posted to

15 Comments so far

  1. Evil (unregistered) on December 15th, 2004 @ 4:37 pm

    Did you move here without knowing this is the capital of the US?

    This is their couch too, and they can crap all over it if they want. Sure, it’s annoying as fuck, but I’d much rather have 3 million protestors with a point than a couple thousand tourists with no clue where they are, staring into space, standing on the left side of the escalator during rush hour.

    Besides, you’ll get the fucking day off.

  2. Tiffany Baxendell (unregistered) on December 15th, 2004 @ 5:08 pm

    There is no guarantee that I’ll get the day off, just like there’s no guarantee that cab drivers, restaurant employees, hotel employees, or office security guards will get the day off. And while I’ll still get paid for the day if I have to stay home, non-salaried employees will not.

    So no, it’s not their couch. They don’t pay for the streets they’re blocking, they don’t pay for the extra police presence required by their protests, and they damn sure don’t create enough extra business here to make up for all the business lost due to protests. Those are costs we absorb as residents of the area, because we know this is the capital and it’s part of living here. But it doesn’t mean they’re welcome to shut the city down just because they want to cry about being on the losing end of majority rule. (And I say that as part of that losing end- I didn’t vote for him, either.)

    They’re all welcome to zip on down here to make their point, and BE the tourons standing on the wrong side of the Metro escalators (because the average protestor doesn’t know any more about DC than your typical Old-Navy-flag-tee-wearing touron does). But the fact is, preventing people from making a living and just generally making life miserable for the people who live here is a very short-sighted way to make a point.

  3. darpino (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 12:03 am

    How many inagurations have you lived through in DC? That day is the very example of what makes DC such a great city to live in. On that day the eyes of the entire world are focused on Pennsylvania Avenue and our President gets to speak to the world in his speech. Regardless of who the new President is, it is the one day of his term that the President is truly face to face with the American people in their Capitol City. Protestors and Supporters alike. Inaguration Day is the day America gets to show what a sterling example of Democracy we actually are. This will be my 5th inaguration living in the District and I gladly invite all of America to flock here and clog our streets.

    Soldiers are dying in Iraq in the name of Democracy, I think we can swallow one day of lousy commuting without whining to do our part.

  4. JennB (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 12:36 am

    Okay…but if any protestors get arrested, you guys can’t complain. Deal?

  5. Jones (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 8:27 am

    This squabble got me thinking: Historically, when a party loses an election (or in this case, the party that these people hate, won) the losing voters go home and hope that they can at least affect change through their elected representatives or interest groups. Why is it, then, that people seem to only be capable of protesting to get their point across? Is the system so corrupted that they can’t pool their resources and lobby government officials, or are their ideas so extreme that no one takes them seriously?

    I say, work through the system rather than standing outside it and complaining about it. How long before Inaguration Day or IMF meetings become America’s own Love Parade?

  6. Jones (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 8:39 am

    I guess my point is this: historically, protests were something out of the ordinary. After World War I, thousands of veterans marched into DC to protest their lack of pensions. In the 60’s, there were massive marches by african americans for equal rights – marches for a common cause.

    Now, it’s just a giant orgie of people with many different, sometimes conflicting causes, making lots of noise.

    These protests have become so common-place and so full of disparate extremist views, that they’re just written off as the semi-annual gatherings of the rebels without a clue.

  7. Tiffany Baxendell (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 9:44 am

    My point is not that there shouldn’t be protests. My point is that people can protest while still staying off the damn sidewalk so that those of us who don’t WANT to participate in the protest can still use them.

    And if it really were just one day of protests, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it’s never just one day of protests in DC, and you ought to know that, Michael. There’s the inauguration. A few days later there will be the March for Life and accompanying counter protests. There’s May Day, and any time the World Bank is meeting, and monthly war protests, and International ANSWER trying to shut down the city, and bicycles on the Beltway, and anytime an Israeli dignitary visits, and Tractor Man, and on and on and on. All I ask is that people who have nothing better to do with their time than stand around and scream at buildings whose inhabitants aren’t listening should be a wee bit considerate of the people who don’t choose to participate in their expression. The people on their way to work are (supposedly) not the objects of the protest, so what point does harrassing them make?

    As Jones points out, protests in DC are commonplace- tediously so. Acting like assholes only causes their point to get lost in the annoyance they’re causing.

  8. JennB (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 12:41 pm

    Exactly. There’s protesting, and then there’s taking protesting to an extreme because you don’t think your point is being made. Memo to protestors: we get your point. Many of us who aren’t protesting voted for the same person you voted for. You can protest all you want, but you still have to respect those of us who choose not to.

  9. darpino (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 12:47 pm

    Tiff for the most part I agree with you about the protests that go on through out the year here. They are useless noise. Social Events that most of the world doesn’t even notice let alone pay attention too.

    I just disagree with you when it comes to Inaguaration Day. On Inaguration Day the eyes of the world are on our city. Pinpointed to the very street, Pensylvania Avenure. Inaguaration Day is the one day I feel protests have an oppurtunity to get their message out to a World Wide Audience. Therefore making protests on that day USEful not useLESS.

    Besides, there will be just as many supporters of Bush clogging the sidewalks as detractors. When Clinton got re-elected the Inaguaration was a big giant love-in of support. Yet it still brought downtown to a halt. And there were plenty of A-holes to go around in that crowd too.

  10. darpino (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 12:49 pm

    And don’t even get me started on that tragic moron Tractor Man :)

  11. Tiffany (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 2:11 pm

    Again, I’d like to reiterate that I’m very much in favor of the presence of protests and protesters. You and I have never met, Michael, so of course you wouldn’t know this about me, but I consider freedom of expression to be the most sacred and fundamental right we all have, to the point of believing it’s our duty to engage in it. What I’m against is gratuitous assholitry. For example, gatherings that require people to stand in the street involve shutting down those streets so that the gatherings can take place safely. So why go outside the barricades and screw up traffic on OTHER streets? Can I please just go to work now?

    So yes protesters, PLEASE DO COME to DC. I think it’s great, really I do. I just think that expression is more effective, and has a better chance of surviving, when it’s your *message* that pisses people off, not your *behavior in delivering it*. We should all be exercising our rights, but that’s not the same as abusing our rights.

    Also, I agree wholeheartedly that there are plenty of jerks even in supporters of the political figure du jour. But they only tend to be the “actively trying to piss you off” sort of jerks when they’re engaged in confrontations with protesters. And really, that’s when they become protesters themselves.

    As for Tractor Guy, yeah, I’d prefer not to get into my rant about him today, either.

  12. Evil (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 5:17 pm

    They pay federal income tax and DC sucks that income tax up in the form of their federal allocation, which is the only reason this bankrupt city kept the lights on under Barry. And this is their capital. They bought it from Maryland. It’s their couch.

    Peaceful civil disobedience, however massive and inconvenient is their right. We moved to the Capital, the Capital didn’t move to us (unless you happen to be 200 years old).

    But I see everyone’s point. Inconvenience sucks. So do Republicans.

  13. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 9:55 pm

    *Peaceful* disobedience, so long as it doesn’t wreck the city, or otherwise be idiots….that I’m just fine with. But the damn anarchists who want to stop traffic on the beltway, or run rampant through the streets with no respect to those of us who are just trying to do their jobs….

    It’s open season on those motherfuckers.

  14. Tiffany (unregistered) on December 16th, 2004 @ 10:43 pm

    Oh, I get it… it’s okay to be a jackass, as long as you do it because you hate George W. Bush.

    It’s all so clear now.

  15. emery (unregistered) on January 16th, 2005 @ 1:51 pm

    About the whole protest bit. First I think its great to see this dialog and that it has not completly fallen to the level of dogs attacking one another. My theory on protests. A wonderful amazing right we have and wonderful way to convey a message. Unfortunately most protests are not organized and carried out in a successful manner. For a protest to effective in this day and age all rage and hatered needs to be removed from it. Yes, get pissed and get involved but anger will never be a successful medium for transmitting ideas. Don’t you think it would be much more effective if the protesters were calm, collected and simply stood with signs and were intentionally silent in objection and respect for the losses by the opposition to their cause. Just thoughts from a 24 year old who feels the direction of our country needs change (not just leadership but in the whole way we view ourselves, our resource use, our compassion for others, our foreign policy, other races, sexs) I think there is lots of hope for this country but things will only get better when we as individuals and a government put humanitarian interests first and personal second. Imagine what we could have done to reduce terrorism if we spent $200 billion on humanitary projects (not just aid that 90% + comes back into the us through development contracts) True aid that really went to the people, for clean water, food, minimum wage, health care. What if we spent $1 billion dollars on relief for the people hurt by the sunami? Imagine what that would do for the image of the US in the worlds eyes. Imagine if we stopped playing games with our foreign aid and it really went where it should. Go protest but think about your message and not being a hipocrite. Imagine taking the time to muddle through the politics and find out what you are really supporting when you eat at Wendy’s, or Taco Bell. Imagine if we spoke out against the injustices we saw in a calm collected manner. Imagine if our government forgot about “politics” and focused on making the world a better place and not making money.

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