Protest in Washington, DCThis morning,
Protest in Washington, DC
This morning, I returned from a weekend in Washington, DC protesting the inauguration of President Bush. Several organizations on campus (International Socialist Organization, The Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Youth Democratic Socialists) had organized with other liberal groups in Chicago to send four coach buses to the rally. For news about the rally, I recommend the Salon.com story, the Associated Press story (via NYTimes) and the CNN story.
I feel that Bush, by failing to win the popular vote and being 'selected' by a split Supreme Court, does not have a mandate for his conservative politics. Also, throughout the campaign, he said, "I trust the people," and, "I'm a uniter (sic), not a divider." I feel it was hypocritical to then disallow a recount in Florida and to nominate John Ashcroft to Attorney General.
But politics are only part of the reason why I decided to attend the protest. Certain experiences, such as this, seem to only present themselves in college. Also, Bush's election is a fairly historical event, so I thought it would be cool to see his inauguration first hand. And there is the incredible rock concert style of energy that comes from yelling with thousands of protesters in front of five rows of police officers standing shoulder to shoulder in riot gear.
Philosophically, I wonder if I'd ever really make a good activist. Among the group of radical left-wing protesters, I felt downright conservative (usually I'm left of moderate). I didn't agree with some of their slogans, namely "Bush=Fascist" and "Impeach Scalia". Also, I simply don't care about politics enough to get really worked up about anything. I'm not apathetic - I simply prioritize other things, such as personal relationships or learning, over the continuing fight for human rights. I once told Adele, who is more conservative than I, that I will one day champion the cause of the masses. She said "Sure, until you become richer than them." I think that was a true observation. I support rational self-interest - but that often means helping other people because they will later help you.
So, although the protest had its enjoyable moments, I don't feel as though these radical groups make me more like the person I want to be, or accentuate my best traits. I'm glad to have experienced that activist subculture, but the status quo is ever so comfortable.