2 October 2010: We Have a Dream--"One Nation Working Together"
Tens of thousands of progressives representing more than 400 diffrerent interest groups, from American Auto Workers (AAW) to the National Educators Association. from truck and cab drivers to clergy and politicians, from infants to senior citizens, handicapped people to athletes, deaf to mezzo soprano, Green Party and socialist to Libertarian--all came together to voice a new dream with frequent references back to the immortal precedent set by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech on the day of the March on Washington in 1963, also held at the Lincoln Memorial.
The Pledge of Allegiance, Star-Spangled Banner, My Country, "Tis of Thee, and other patriotic backdrop added to both the anxiety of patriotism, and bewilderment and anger that basic human rights are being treated as exclusivist privileges.
A parable formed from the biblical legend of Noah was the structure of long-time activist Marion Wright Edelman's speech, close to the middle of the 4-hour rally: if such diversity could exist at such close quarters in Noah's ark for forty days and nights, why can't we share this country so equitably, all of us stuck in this boat of the United States together, a floundering ship at sea?
How could Glenn Beck have used this same venue a month ago, drawing parallels between the ideals of MLK and those of the Tea Party constituency?
MLK belongs to all of us, but . . .
Wonderful old and new music punctuated the silence between speeches at the October 2 rally. An exquisite mezzo soprano sang The Star Spangled Banner. The most popular patriotic motifs seemed to be the Pledge of Allegiance and My Country, T'is of Thee.
The first sentence of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution would have been my suggestion as a radial theme--actually just one particular clause: TO PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE.
How can any group outside of those who attended today's rally possibly claim to "promote the general welfare"?
Liberty, justice, and freedom were the abstracts the crowd expressed longing for; most specific were the crying need for jobs and education--rights, not privileges, far more important to add to the Bill of Rights than any restrictive definitions of marriage.
Beyond that, an entire spectrum of violated human rights was exemplified and discussed; also an entire spectrum of interests--and how our country's motto e pluribus unum (a Latin phrase that originally referred to a tossed salad), "out of many things, one," so aptly described the many plights brought together to merge into a "sermon to the choir"--our dreams cohere with the founding principles of this country and with each other--these dreams denied undermine the foundation of our Enlightenment origins.
And most sadly, statistics indicate that Congress will turn redder after the November midterm election, a common pattern but, in our case, most distressing given all of the crucial progressive-leaning changes accomplished by the Obama administration in the preceding two years.
With so much remaining to be done, how can these beginnings be effaced back to square one, or into the negatives?
I have received the directive what to do, which was not the focus of today's rally, though mentioned more than once, beneath an achingly blue sky, dazzling midday sunshine, and mild temperature. I was told by the DNC to make calls to ensure that all citizens get out as many votes as they can--the target undecided voters most generally. Certainly we should all do this--our votes are crucial and we are still the overwhelming majority. Tea Partiers comprise less than half of the Republican Party, the rest of whom are deeply alarmed by the directions they advocate.
The mood of the rally was more a collage of what we must have versus the persistent reality that denies this. What we should do, besides energize each other, is never to lose the dream nor let others take it away. We must never stop fighting. We must demand and never cease to demand, that our tax money be spent on our needs at home on Main Street--we the vast majority, despite the statistics of attendees this month versus the Glenn Beck parody, which assign higher numbers to the prior event.
The diversity among our numbers certainly trumps actual numbers--they had more to prove and, as the Washington Post observed, more star power than Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson: Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin?