Any day you can drive through Northern New York with the windows down is a good day. And, considering I was about to stand on a line holding a sign for two and a half hours, this bode very well indeed. The light breeze and clear, blue sky was all the encouragement I needed that this was a darn fine day for dissent.
As I pulled into Canton and started looking for a parking spot, I stopped at a red light that put me just across the road from the protesters facing Main Street. My window down, one attendee yelled, “Hey, honk if you support us.” I smiled and honked, and avoided the temptation to grab my own gigantic signs to wave back at them as the a protester yelled, “we’re here for you, too!”
Amen to that.
Once on the line, I handed one of my two signs off to another protester, and was immediately struck by the overall friendliness of the crowd. Here we were, serious as a heart attack and mad as hell over taxation, runaway spending, and the wholesale bankrupting of generations of our offspring — but it was more like talking politics with old friends over coffee.
As car after car drove by and honked (more than one of our signs invited them to “Honk if you love Capitalism” or “Honk if you hate runaway spending”), it was just not possible to be dejected by the one or two passers by who were clearly against us, or the nearly complete lack of media coverage (to my knowledge, two local radio stations actually covered the event, mine included). Indeed, though there were fewer of us than at many Tea Party events, we knew that for a place like Canton, NY to get 100-150 people in a crowd in the middle of a work day meant that something important was happening.
Among the protesters, retirees and veterans (each of whom was thanked for his service, and by more than one person), families, working men and women, and even college students. One group of students surprised me, actually — and provided a lesson I shouldn’t have to be taught: first impressions aren’t everything. As this group of four or five students began crossing the street, I noticed the flipflops and folded signs, their young ages — and the t-shirt with the permanent-marker legend, “Save the Trees,” — and I thought, well, here we go. It’s the counter protest. Then, as they continued walking by, I saw the back of that shirt: “Stop Printing Money.”
Knowing the next generation cares, too, is a good feeling.
Nancy Foster, the local GOP Chair who organized the event, took note of the distances traveled by some supporters in her correspondence with me:
Thank you for coming out today to support the Canton Tea Party. There were over 150 men, women, and children in attendance from the North County: Brasher, Canton, Chateaugay, Churubusco, Clifton, Cranberry Lake, DeKalb, Hammond, Herman, Lisbon, Louisville, Madrid, Malone, Massena, Norwood, Ogdensburg, Oswegatchie, Parishville, Pierrepont, Potsdam, and Winthrop (hope I did not skip any). The signs were amazing and the respect shown for the democratic process was a great lesson for the children in attendance. I must admit, every time I think about the support we got from passing traffic, I smile. …
Many of those in attendance, including my husband & I, had never before participated in a protest of any type. It is our hope that our state and federal representatives recognize that this national grassroots effort cannot be ignored.
It’s true, for many of us — in protests around the country — this was indeed our first time out. In truth, the “progressives” of Move On and other organizations seem to have cornered the market on such activities. It’s an unfortunate but understandable fact of life: Conservatives tend to have jobs, and don’t get government grants to carry signs.
But we came out anyway. We took our lunch hours, or took days off, and we came out to send this message. It is not okay to steal from our children, which is exactly what the government is doing with their absurd fiscal policy. This is government run amok, and it cannot continue.
Yesterday morning, as I was preparing a signs, my son, Trey noted that one of them had a giant letter “T.” Since he assumes anything with a “T” on it must belong to him, he asked, “Daddy, is that for me?”
And, you know what? It was.
(cross-posted at SLC Republitarian)