Blog: Tale of two marches |

Blog: Tale of two marches

Deb Marquez
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Deb Marquez/Special to the Daily

DENVER, Colorado ” It is funny how two things described by the traditional media can be so different.

In the last 24 hours the dog has been to two separate marches. The first was the anti-war march from the Coliseum to the Can (Pepsi Center). The second was the immigrants rights march, from one nice green park to another about five blocks from the Democratic convention.

These two events could not be more different from the dog’s point of view. Both were issues that the dog supports, strongly, so please understand that anything he says critical of these marches is from love not disdain.

The anti-war march started after a free Rage Against the Machine concert. For those that don’t know RAM (not the memory!) they are a hard-core alternative, metal band. Lots of angst, lots of anger, lots of base, so their fans are just who you would think, younger, highly tattooed and long haired.

There is exactly nothing wrong with that, it is what it is. There were an estimated 9,000 people who turned out for the concert, and about a third of them decided to make the march after the show.

When the concert was just ending, the Denver police (and others forces) started to show up and get ready for the march. Roughly 100 were in full riot gear, the rest were on bikes and in cars.

The dog has to say that the city of Denver did a pretty good job of making it hard on these marchers. The march route was down Brighton Boulevard, which is an ugly industrial street that is kind of the back way into downtown (where the Can is). The route was over six miles long, and there is no sidewalk for most of it.

Given these conditions, the organizers did not do very well themselves. There was a group of about 30 Iraq war vets that were going to lead the march, in full uniform. Part of the goal of the march was to (hopefully) get a letter from the vets read from the podium in the convention.

But here is where the problems start. The concert let out at the exactly the same time the convention was being gaveled to order. So, there was zero chance that the delegates would see the protest (other than on the news after the fact) and there would be very little time for them to convince the DNC to let them do what they wanted.

In fact it took four-and-a-half hours for the march to get to the Can. What started as 3,500 was whittled down by heat and time to 500 die-hard marchers when it finally arrived. It was 7:30 p.m. and former President Clinton was speaking. They did finally manage to get the letter delivered, if not read and then declared victory.

Now let’s look at the Immigrants Rights march. First off it started at 9:30 a.m., a much better time in terms of coolness. As people started to arrive there was a much more cohesive feeling than the anti-war march. There were moms and little kids, old radicals and newly politically active Dems.

At the anti-war march you were more likely to have been down in a mash pit, here you were greeted with hugs.

The immigrants rights march was impeccably organized. The first group of people to arrive was the march security. That is right, these volunteers were uniformed, equipped with both walkie talkies and bullhorns. They were working with the police that were assigned to the march, in full cooperation.

The police were different too. No riot gear was in sight, just bicycles. They were relaxed and talking and joking with the marchers.

Before we started a group of Aztec dancers danced a prayer for the march, then we were off. Sure, like any march there were chants (What does American look like? This is what America looks like!) and there were signs (Immigrant Rights are Human Rights) but the march could not in any way be considered militant. This march had about 1,000 people in it, which was far short of the 50,000 the organizers had hoped for. But there were two documentary crews there, and plenty of press to cover it.

Now, don’t let the dog give you the impression that this was a picture-perfect march. There were fellow traveler groups (the dog got both a Socialist and a Communist newspaper) and there were a few folks that were more than a little over the top.

But all in all it really did look like America. There were little kids, old folk, and everyone in-between. There were Latinos, Chinese, Europeans and every other artificial division we make for humans in the march.

DENVER, Colorado ” Now that we have seen the very passionate, very aggressive, very clear in her support for Sen. Obama speech from Sen. Clinton, the dog is wondering if we are seeing a political head fake. This might be too clever by half, but stick with the dog on this.

We know that summer is a usually a time where most voters are more interested in the Olympics or the pennant race or even the recalcitrant brown spot in the middle of the lawn than the presidential politics. It is a time of framing and dirty tricks precisely for this reason.

But this summer has been a little different. We had a primary process that was not over until the beginning of June, so there was more awareness going into the summer. Then we had Hillary’s supporters claiming that they would not support Sen. Obama, no, no, no, never! This went on, even though Sen. Clinton appeared in Unity, N.H. with Sen. Obama and gave her unequivocal support. It kept a story line going that would get play on every network everywhere, right up to this week and the convention.

Then we get Sen. Clinton’s speech. Let’s face it, like her, hate her, it does not matter, everyone of us can say she not only hit that one out of the park, she put it in orbit (in fact the speech has been spotted by the crew of the International Space Station, they are thinking of mounting a recovery mission)!

This speech once and for all hammered any rationale for actual Dems to withhold their support from Obama right into the ground. It is the story on every front page of every newspaper in Denver and around the country. Now comes the tricky part.

What if this was the plan all along? There have been times this summer where the dog (and others) wondered why Sen. Clinton was not doing more to bank the fires of rebellion by her most ardent supporters. Could this have been a plan?

Think about it for a second ” which is the more compelling story? Sen. Clinton unifies the party in June, hits hard at those that would organize in her name but without her support, and then attends the convention where she gives a good, solid speech.

Or she makes a good solid attempt at unity, but does not really follow it up. There were leaks that there were worries about the convention, negotiations were ongoing, there was a concern about her speech ” and then we get what we had on Tuesday; a full-throated vow of support for Sen. Obama and a blistering attack on the true opponent, Sen. McCain.

The first is ho hum and would not make any splash nor help in the beginning of the fall campaign, the second keeps the supporters of both candidates engaged and generates tons and tons of free press all summer long.

It also sets the convention up to be watched by more voters (mostly in the hopes of seeing a wreck, just like NASCAR). It makes what is often an event that is interesting to only insiders that much more interesting to the average voter.

There is also the aspect of making Sen. McCain’s campaign spend time and resources on a constituency that he really can not win. After all, if you are a Dem or a woman or a woman Dem, there is nothing good for you from a McCain presidency.

Roe would be overturned, workplace protections for women and minorities would continue to be eroded, and the country would continue to have a dysfunctional health-care system. These are all issues that supporters of Sen. Clinton hold dear; so even if they talk one way, by Nov. 4th they would be coming home to the Democratic nominee.

But by letting them give full voice to their complaints, by not tamping them down in the early to midsummer as conventional wisdom would require, that means that the McCain campaign has to reach out to this mirage of persuadable voters. Even better it gives a natural avenue to highlight the issues where Sen. McCain is a disaster for this particular voter group, while tying up resources that could be used to attack Sen. Obama.

It also limits the topics that Sen. Obama can be attacked on, as this group is not going to accept some of the standard tropes about Dem candidates and still vote for Sen. McCain.

Now, the dog is not saying this is what happened. After all, there is all that polling about Clinton voters who say they are going to vote for Sen. McCain; still it is the kind of political rope-a-dope that both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama are capable of. We have no idea what they have discussed, but there is one thing that we do know, neither of these politicos are the kind to waste a chance to stick it to their opposition.

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