Let’s face it – this was a rough few days for us.
I was on the ground in DC all weekend. I got down there early on Saturday and had the opportunity to speak to the crowd of around 30,000 people, if only briefly. Saturday was beautiful. The weather, the attitude – people had come on short notice from everywhere to be in town to hold Congress accountable. We were overwhelmed by the turnout, and just stunned that that many had come together on such short notice to fight.
The magnitude of this was not lost on anyone in DC this weekend. Everyone understood the ramifications of what was happening. Everyone came ready to talk to whoever they needed to talk to, to yell and make noise and remind Congress that we are currently experiencing the consequences of our votes, and come November, they’ll experience the consequence of theirs.
Here’s a quick clip of Brendan and I speaking at the rally:
I spent most the of the day on the West Lawn. Here are some photos from the rally (click through):
I’m going to express some of my inherent girly-ness with the next statement, but I don’t much care. I teared up several times watching people come in, and was really just overwhelmed by the crowd. I hate that people have had to come back to Washington over and over again. I want to stop asking them to… but we didn’t have much of a choice. People just keep showing up. There was nothing we could do about it. For all the accusations we get from people of controlling the movement, we have no ability to control anything, and this weekend was proof positive that this is bottom up – because we honestly had very little idea of what to do at the top. We encircled the Capitol around 5pm, and then wound up on the east steps, chanting and rallying until the Congressmen went home, and then moved over to the Supreme Court, where we held a candlelight vigil and marched around the Capitol one more time. That was when I split off and fell asleep on the train on the way home.
Nothing was planned for Sunday, but Rep. King and Rep. Bachmann had called us back to the Capitol at 11am, so I showed up. We did church on the West Lawn through bullhorns before breaking off again and disbursing through the House offices, gallery, and West Lawn. There was no stage or PA system. There were people everywhere, and it was just chaos. I covered what I could on Twitter, but the tension was something I am not sure I can really communicate effectively. Let me just paint a picture for you:
We’re in Washington, DC, among the monuments, the Capitol, the White House, and every other historic landmark that resides here. Over the course of the weekend, there were anti-war and SEIU funded amnesty rallies in the same space. So when Sunday rolls around, and the country-shaping vote on health care reform is looming, people are riled up. The SEIU thugs start infiltrating the crowd that had gathered on the south lawn. Some GOP Congressmen had hung a Gadsden flag from the balcony of the Capitol, and everyone was going nuts. I turned to my left to ask a woman standing next to me who it was, and she responded with “Someone who’s being f***ed in the a** by insurance companies…” and began yelling at me. I walked away. It was shortly after that I needed to retreat for a bit and we went to a pub not far from the action. People were having heated conversations at the bar. In the midst of March Madness, Fox News was on to monitor the Stupak announcement. The tension was physically draining.
I was so worn out by 5pm that I couldn’t go back down to the battle field. I one point I sent out a tweet that said “I feel like I’m reporting from a war zone”, and that’s the best way I could describe it. I got shouted at by people on the street that overheard my conversations with my boss, so I was literally crossing the street to call my friends, because I couldn’t do so among any crowd at that point. It was funny on some level, because I was looking for a Gadsden flag or an American flag or something to identify a friendly face. Honestly, that part was relatively easy as the amnesty marchers were all in matching shirts with pre-printed signs.
I also feel like I should speak to the accusations that have been flying about racist and homophobic remarks. Any time you get that many people together, there will be fringers who go over the edge. Like the LaRouchies that we can’t seem to shake. However, I was all over the place all weekend and heard nothing of the sort. All of the “evidence” I have seen has proved that it never happened. And when it comes down to it, some idiot saying something discriminatory doesn’t change what’s right, and freedom is what’s right. That’s what we’re fighting for, and even when we lose, I’m heartened to know that there are so many who still are willing to show up to battle.
This fight is not over. We are far from done. I have taken a few days to catch my breath, and I’m back on the road on Friday. Y’all ready to do this with me?