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Portrait of a Protestor

Last Thursday, crowds poured out of turnstiles at Washington DC’s Union Station. Only a few people wore red T-shirts. Everyone else dressed like regular Americans on the way to work, play or pass time.

It seemed like a normal day until I saw the man who looked like Santa Claus.

For the first time, he wasn’t round or dressed in red. But for the gray streaks, his long beard and white hair were the same as they are in December. Instead of a bulging sack, he carried a deflated backpack. He wore a blue flannel shirt, suspenders, baggy gray pants, and brown boots. He carried his cane like a shepherd’s staff.

As we shuffled with the Metro crowd, I asked him where he was from. He pulled out a card which read “6 miles east/ right on Bluecreek Road/ 1/4 mile to Blue Creek Road/ 56 miles to Athens.”

The card’s other side pictured a horse and a mule with red words written above: Mountain Mule Expeditions.

The man invited me to come ride sometime. I told him I’d never been on a donkey, but looked forward to the experience. I went out on a limb and made a comment about the Democrat Party mascot. He laughed.

What a relief. He might not have been Santa, but I didn’t want to be crossed off his list. I hoped we could have a friendly conversation until parted by the throngs. I was happy to discover this man was on our side in what I knew was war.

I inquired what had brought him to town. He replied that he’d come all the way from Big Pine Road to ask his Congressman to vote no on Government Takeover of American Health Care.

The unsmiling man next to us said he was here for the same reason. His hair was pulled in a straggly pony-tail, and he appeared at the end of his rope, sick of being bled by the Capitol Let-Them-Eat-Cake Crowd. He walked forward with the rest of us, forging ahead anyway.

Next I asked a quiet long-haired woman where she was from. She said Texas, and with just as much pride, that she’d parked her truck at Metro’s Shady Grove stop.

She wore an olive-green sweater that belonged to her son, a Marine serving in an undisclosed location. She too had come to Washington in answer to Congresswoman Bachmann’s call to say no to Pelosi’s bankrupting ”Stealth” Care Bill.

Suddenly it seemed as if everyone had taken a sick-day to come to Washington. Apparently, at least 30, 000 Americans were heeding Bachmann’s call to converge on the US Capitol steps. Busloads appeared on a dime, full of ordinary people demanding that our pleas about reckless spending and Big Bad Government be heard.  

The previous Friday, Bachmann had relayed her call on Fox’s Sean Hannity Show. 6 days later, people arrived in Washington from Hawaii, California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, seriously New Jersey and more.

I remember when Republicans stood out in a crowd unless they were at a club. But last week’s protestors were polite fiscal conservatives of all colors and classes. Some wore pearls or ties, but many looked like they danced at Woodstock. I’d bet anything the majority were self-described Independents, the ideal tag for mortified Liberals and Republicans who are disgusted with the GOP.

I saw several old people but not one in the crowd could be called grand. All of have things in common besides good sense: we say YES to fiscal conservatism; Constitutionally limited, smaller government; lower taxes and deficits; bold, strong military and national defense; clear, pragmatic analysis; individual responsibility, and term limits.

Knowing that Pelosi’s House version of Health Care Reform violates several of these principles and bankrupts our nation, all of us were chanting KILL THE BILL.

Two days later, I learned that the woman in the Marine green sweater became the little lady responsible for a very important national order. After the Ft. Hood murders by an American jihadist, which also occurred on 5 November, she noticed that American flags were flying full-mast. Good protestor that she was, the Marine mother telephoned a US Army office and gave them hell for failing to honor our slaughtered soldiers. 

Miraculously, someone called her back soon, apologized, and told her to look out her window. The American flag was flying half-staff.

I’ll never see these good American people again, but unlike most elected to Congress, I’m far better for having known and learned from them.

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