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03 October 2010

One Nation...

Yesterday, I went to the One Nation Working Together rally on the National Mall, and just wanted to post some of my impressions.  First of all, the rally seemed dominated by union groups.  The crowd was literally awash with union t-shirts, signs, buttons, and other paraphernalia.  There were other interests there too - peace activists, environmental activists, even a Socialist contingent (second video) who were by far the loudest group in the crowd.  But the unions were definitely the primary movers there, and most of the other messages were either lost to or subsumed under the issue of jobs (i.e. green jobs, bring war money home to create jobs, etc.).  Thus the double meaning of the rally title "Working Together" - I took it more literally thinking it meant actually "working together" rather than "working together."
In any case, it was definitely worthwhile.  There were some good speakers, and people there seemed to be truly engaged, and I in no way want to belittle the value of such a rally, though I think that the idea of working together ought to be emphasized now more than anything.  The true value of rallies like this, and other activist events is not to demonstrate the number of people who support a certain cause or to get people to go out and vote, but, rather, to get people together, to get them thinking and talking, to get them to work out new ideas and new solutions.  In other words, to build new associations.  I've often come away from rallies feeling disenchanted, but if I look at it this way, then I feel a little more hope.

The last thing I want to point out, and Rev. Sharpton made the observation as well, is that this rally seemed more representative of the American people than Beck's rally.  I can't make a comparison based on number of people (and in a sense it would be moot since that's really only a matter of who can bus the most in), but it seems clear that there was more ethnic diversity, religious diversity, ideological diversity, and economic diversity at this rally than at Beck's.  That's important, I think. 

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