Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another One About The Tea Party

The Atlanta Tea Party yesterday was my first ever protest! No, really! It was a very interesting experience, especially given the rain and the fact that we had all of The People with us. I'm glad we did it.

We arrived a little bit after the starting time and the speakers were already going. If I understand correctly, in addition to the protest organizers, several State lawmakers spoke as well. We ended up on the outside of the main crowd, due to our late arrival, which made it somewhat challenging to hear the speakers. The noise around us, the traffic, and having to keep the kids close to us also served as distractions from the speeches. I did hear someone talking about "Greed" in a very Gordon Gecko kind of sense, and I wish I had heard more of that.

Our position along the sidewalk actually worked out much better for us, since we were all right along the road, and were able to talk to drivers who slowed down to hand us teabags and take our pictures. As far as I know, there were about 5 or 6 requests from people to take our pictures, but only the one picture has surfaced on the internet. If any more show up, I'll be sure to post them. Let me know if you find any, too! (I have yet to go all the way through this enormous album of pics.)

The rain made things miserable, though. I wish our weather had been better--I had been looking forward to chatting with people a bit, maybe meeting some of the organizers. As it was, we pretty much had to stand in our little patch of sidewalk. Actually, now that I think about it, if the weather had been nicer, it might have been more challenging to keep the kids close to us. The poor things just huddled next to us, holding the signs I had made the night before.

In addition to the signs that made us famous the children held up, we had other signs that said:

"Don't Stimulate: LIBERATE!"
"Perdue: Say NO to $TIMULU$"
"The answer to 1984 is 1776."

And maybe a couple more--we ended up not using them all. We might have switched them out a bit if we had had nicer weather. Have I mentioned our yucky rainy weather enough? :o) Our governor has indicated that he is considering declining at least some of the stimulus money for Georgia, so I think our signs directed at him (Perdue) were especially important.

The mood of the crowd--somewhere around 400 in number--was very energetic and benevolent. There were lots of great signs--funny, clever, pithy. And we counted at least four signs besides ours that referenced Atlas Shrugged or Ayn Rand. And that is a Good Thing!

We left a bit before it ended because of that climate-related thing I'm not mentioning again, and had a fun train ride adventure back to suburbia, including being accused of child abuse (wet children) by a crazy guy who could see the spirit (and he looked as if he possibly could), the baby and me getting briefly stuck in the MARTA elevator with three very nice, very clueless, and very pro-Jehovah people, and all of the ensuing logistical maneuverings that inevitably accompany any outing that involves 4 children, 4 adults, 1 stroller and (N - 1 Zillion) Snacks, where N = The Amount of Snacks Necessary to Satisfy Tired, Wet, Hungry Children.

Then we came back here and had the rest of our Fun Friend Friday! It was a fun day, and I'm glad we did it, and I plan to be out next time if there is one. I have no idea how to measure the impact of such efforts on what is going to happen at the State level; it's only one kind of activism. I'm going to write all of my State and Federal legislators and tell them that I went and why, just to make my point. I encourage anyone reading this to do the same, even if you couldn't make it to a rally.

Still, a very successful first protest for me!


Burgess Laughlin said...

Watching a political demonstration can be fascinating for students of history and for activists looking at the mechanics of creating change.

Off and on for 45 years, I have attended or closely observed "demonstrations" of one sort or another: opposition to the Vietnam War, opposition to the draft, support for freedom of choice in abortion, and anti-abortion (observed from the sidelines).

I don't have a "theory of demonstrations." There are several fascinating questions about demonstrations:

- Why do the demonstrators demonstrate? What is the range of motivations?

- What effects--intended and unintended--do demonstrations have?

- What do the particular forms of demonstration say about the principles guiding the demonstrators? E.g., leftists seem to make a demonstration a primary social event--"experiencing the group"--while conservatives sometimes view demonstrations (which are rare for them) as something I cannot quite identify, other than the obvious point that they are "public statements" designed to attract attention.

For me, attending a demonstration (that was conducted morally and legally) was refueling--if I shared views with the other demonstrators, at least on a narrow subject. But I suspect that the main value is not in directly changing the culture as much as it is strengthening the resolve of the participants.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Alas, if we had a Tea Party here in New Mexico, I didn't hear about it. I am glad these are starting up, but it seems like awefully short timing. And this is truly the land of manana!

This past week has been one of great sorrow and new purpose for our family, and I am just now coming out of my shell. Maybe.

I have attended many demonstrations, beginning as a child. Like Burgess, I find them a good way to connect with like-minded people and to refuel!

Rational Jenn said...

Thank you both! I think the primary benefit to attending this rally was certainly being with likeminded people. It was fun to read the signs people came up with and there was a feeling of common purpose. I suspect the experience would have been more powerful had there been opportunities to socialize a bit.

I hope we made at least a small impression on our state lawmakers, since there is still hope that GA will refuse some of the money.

We all got a big kick out of being there--it was certainly not the kind of day on which we normally would have ventured into the city. I'd definitely do it again.

Elisheva, I'm interested in hearing what it was like for you to attend similar events as a child. And I'm glad you are on your way back--take care of yourself.

Russell said...

Hi Jenn, great to see you protesting; it's very liberating isn't it? At least your kids and grandkids can say "at least my mum tried to do something about protecting our liberty." Good on you.
Russell W New Zealand

Jenny Beth @ JenuineJen said...

Hi Jenn!

I am very glad you were able to make it to the Atlanta Tea Party. Sorry you could not hear the speakers very well but I am glad you were able to talk to people driving by. The original PA system was canceled because of that weather situation. Luckily, 920 AM was gracious enough to let us use their PA system. The PA system is something we need to keep in mind for future events.

At any rate, if you go to You Tube and search Atlanta Tea Party you can hear several of the speeches.

Speaking of future events, we have another Tea Party planned for April 15th. We are still determining the location and time. Hopefully, we will be able to socialize a bit more at the next one. Since it will be outside, we will be dependent on the weather again.

Also, on Saturday, April 18th, Smart Girl Politics is having a Meet and Greet. The Meet and Greet should allow much more time to socialize since it will be inside a building somewhere with food. The tentative time for it is 5 - 7 pm but we do not have a location yet.

I will keep you updated.