So Monday night, when Chris was driving home from class, someone pulled up behind him honking, then pulled up beside him, and flipped him off.
Chris went: ?
And then: Oh. Right. Obama sticker on the back of the car. (This sort of thing happens in Turlock.)
The articulate driver rolled down his window to engage in political discourse (i.e. yell at Chris while he was a captive audience at the light). Chris obliged by rolling his down, too.
The unhappy driver's irate contribution was, "You actually like what this guy is doing to the country?"
And Chris, though enchanted, just rolled back up his window and continued home.
It was sort of par for the day--light, for the day. Teabaggers were busy accosting Democrats in the House, spitting on and yelling ni**er at black congressmen, and otherwise clarifying their position. Health care reform opponents were also cutting propane lines, throwing bricks, and generally making threats to people voting for reform.
...Now I know there's such a thing as getting riled up. I know there can be a lack of discipline at rallies, and that people can act out. But you know what a lack of discipline looks like at the kind of political actions I participate in? Sneaking in a mismatched flag that's not part of the message. Or letting out a "Where the fuck's the funding?," or getting snarkier on a sign than is necessary. It does NOT look like violence, racial slurs, or an actual need for extra security.
Number one rule of protesting: You demonstrate the comparative righteousness of your position if--though YOU are nonviolent--the opposition's only way to deal with you is to become violent themselves. Violence towards protesters sitting in or blocking the way or just being there is an admission of having nothing intelligent to say on the matter, is an acknowledgment that your position does not hold up on its own. Violence is the recourse of badly seated power, because it cannot win an argument, cannot peacefully engage, cannot win its aims by legitimate means, but only by a show of force or intimidation.
The dynamic can be made just as clear when the protest is what turns violent and ugly in the face of attempts at peaceful discourse.
If there's going to be a total regression of a segment of our country into the old let's-lynch-black-people-and-socialists days, I hope that the nature of said movement will at least become a little clearer to the general public. Not much in the way of silver lining.
...But you know what is?
32 million newly insured Americans. People getting to actually go to the doctor when they have a stomach ache, rather than when their appendix is already septic and about to rupture (unlike my baby brother, who got dumped off of my mom's insurance just in time to need major surgery, instead of timely surgery). People getting vaccinations and preventative care cheap, before we get rampant epidemics from untreated diseases and have to pay several times more to treat them in ERs anyway. And just possibly, maybe a little lowering in the absurdly high infant death rates and deaths from preventable diseases. Oh, and a lowering in the deficit. Oh, and of the overall costs of health care. Improvements in the lives of EVERYONE in this country, not just the ones who were uninsured.
Getting honked at and yelled at really seems absolutely worth it. Once in a while, persisting peacefully in the right works out.