On the Metro, as I was leaving downtown D.C., I saw a few individuals wearing United Auto Workers T-shirts. Being a journalist, I was curious about what any of them might have thought about the "One Nation Working Together" rally I was leaving. I asked the person closest to me for his thoughts, and he said he was a little a disappointed. He said he was glad people came out and there was good camaraderie but he was disappointed.
I asked why he was disappointed. He said, "We didn't march." I smiled at him and told him, "He was right, we didn't." The organizers used the word "march" when there was no plans for people marching at all. They said those at the rally were going to march for jobs, education, immigrant rights, justice, and more. But, they weren't talking about what people on the National Mall were going to do after the 4-hour rally ended.
The use of the word "march" was, instead, an act of cheapening activism. Liberal-leaning institutions involved, like the AFL-CIO, American Federation for Teachers, NAACP, SEIU, Sierra Club, etc.---organizations that can always be counted on to convince people to vote Democrat---co-opted the word. What they really meant was they and others were going to "march" on the polls on November 2nd and overwhelm the efforts of the Tea Party to take control of Congress. And, in effect, these institutions and other organizations involved were doing a service to political leaders, who have failed Americans miserably since President Obama was elected. By managing the anger and frustration of people and ensuring it did not produce any kind of an independent movement that would result in major acts of civil disobedience, direct action or electoral activism outside of the two dominant parties in America, these institutions were helping the politicians and corporations that finance them out.
When I first got to the rally, I hung around the peace contingent. There were a couple hundred people from various groups of significance in the peace movement present. They had a right to be proud because the organizers of the event had invited representatives of the peace movement to be a part of the organizing committee (something that usually doesn't happen with these big liberal groups).But, then, the peace movement also had plenty to bothered about; they really didn't get to have any speakers from the movement get up in front of the Lincoln Memorial and address the tens of thousands of people who were present.
The peace contingent held a small rally near 14th & Constitution Ave in D.C. before joining the main rally that went from from 12 to 4 pm. Michael McPhearson of Veterans for Peace, members of Gold Star Familes for Peace, Glen Ford and others spoke to those who gathered around. Perhaps, one of the most memorable issues brought up during that small rally was the issue of FBI raids on progressive activists that happened recently in Chicago and Minneapolis. An individual shared how a grand jury is going to be convened and activists will be expected to respond to subpoenas, however, the activists are refusing to go before the jury on the basis that this is a "witch-hunt," McCarthyism, or, more appropriately, a result of the PATRIOT Act and its expansions.
A satellite photo image led organizers to claim the rally had more people in attendance than and the "Restoring Honor" rally put on by Glenn Beck had. Interestingly, the Associated Press is disputing this claim and do not think the crowds were as dense as they were during the Beck rally.
As someone who was there, I contend there were at least 50,000 if not more. I don't know how many were present for the Beck rally and, if you followed that crowd count, there were disputes on the numbers.