A Venture Into Real Democracy On Red State Capitol Grounds

truthful tuesday


I loaned about six hours to American Democracy Tuesday; a 1 ½ hour bus ride each way, a couple hours of whooping it up at a noon rally called “Truthful Tuesday” and the 30-minute car ride to and from the bus meeting point where 35 of us progressive locals gathered to add our presence and cheering voices to well over a thousand (a few, if AP were to be believed) like-minded liberal Democrats at the state Capitol building in Columbia.

There was an earlier demonstration, attracting a pitiful 200 souls that was sponsored by FreedomWorks, a radical organization originally funded by one of the Koch brothers and headed for a time by Dick Armey until the group bought off Armey for 8 million bucks. The Tea Party protesters were bitching about what they called ‘Obamacare’ and, to that end, featured State Representative, Bill Chumley, the same guy who wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars flying in Walter Williams, a George Mason economist and fill-in for Rush Limbaugh, to lend his expertise (Absolute Zero) to a House Subcommittee working feverishly to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

My local paper pictured Chumley speaking behind a giant sign “Choose Freedom’ STOP ObamaCare.” They didn’t dare show the meager crowd. In a piece of editorial nuance, AP put the estimated crowd of Truthful Tuesday at “several hundred.” Objective observers placed its numbers at 1,500-2000.

The Associated Press reporter summed up the demonstration contents I attended by accurately calling it a rally for social justice with the crowd chanting “enough is enough.” He pointed out the coffin that fronted the speakers as representing the estimated 1,300-1,400 people who would die as a result of Republican Governor, Nikki Haley, refusing to expand Medicaid eligibility. The story added that in addition to supporting ACA, there were concerns about education, jobs (28.6% pay poverty wages), and voting rights. As for the latter, South Carolina ranks 47th in the nation in voter participation. An African-American lady told of the succession of roadblocks the state put in her way at every step of the registration process. AP hinted that my crowd wouldn’t mind getting arrested for civil disobedience at future events. Judging from the average age of the attendees, they’d have to be cuffed sitting down.

The Associated Press story included no names of any of the roughly dozen speakers at the rally. Some were distinguished leaders in their fields of health care, education and labor. There was a labor union head, a courageous doctor, a social worker, several ministers and others who presented real-life examples of the harm Republican elected officials are bringing down on their constituents.

On my bus ride up and back, we were treated to friendly and informative patter from the driver on various issues of interest, including pointing out the bridge collapse, truck mishap of the day before, temporarily blocking a busy thoroughfare. It was one of those infrastructure projects on the drawing board. I sat with my Greek friend, Nick, on both legs of the trip. Nick knows his politics and his sports and we had an “interesting” mutual friend we gossiped about the majority of the time.

Once we alighted the bus, we headed for the venue. I’m not a stand-arounder, so I assisted in moving and setting up chairs and hauling a table out to the entrance that we could use to stack up literature.

I talked with a number of strangers. Democrats are invariably open and friendly at these confabs. One lady had battled cancer for four years. She had been with her insurance company for 25 years. Her last treatment came to $45,000. The insurance company paid $2,000 of the tab. There were numerous similar stories sprinkled throughout the crowd.

I ran into a trio of easily identifiable motorcycle enthusiasts; some would call them “bikers.” They had patches, but no colors. It was slightly off-putting that one of their number had never heard of a Norton or the new Lightning Electric.

They came to the rally to pitch their group called ABATE (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments). Here’s their Carolina Website. The trio appeared to be between 30-45 and gladly handed me a business card and a narrow, three-page membership application folder. The number one issue among riders has always been helmet laws. Only three states have no requirement to wear a helmet. The others with have mandatory or partial laws.

Of course, opposition to wearing a helmet is a narcissistic absurdity. I never thought I’d be sending you to a Fox site for a legitimate news story, but a visit to this year-and-a-half -old Fox News helmet report will give you an idea of how much we give up in blood and treasure for the misguided defense of no helmets. There are other issues of importance. Motorcycle safety and, in particular, riding while impaired. Over 40% of motorcycle accidents involve drunk or drugged-up riders. I suspect most members of this fascinating fraternity, with a growing sorority contingent, signing on, are of the more conservative bent. But they’re no dummies and I’d respectfully listen to their concerns.

I get along swell with the biker crowd, though I once tore up a knee flipping over the curb on an actual vintage Indian Chief bike. Yes, it was my fault, failing to notice gravel that had spilled over onto pavement in taking a turn too sharply. This extraordinary bike is still around. The oldie Indians were a blast, riding low with a left-handed throttle (right-handers were available) and a sidevalve engine (ask grandpa about Indians if he still wears a bandana around the house). It’s still the most unique badge out there for motorcycle enthusiasts.

I left the bikers with the full intention of attending one of their local meetings and turned my immediate full attention to the stage. The speakers were informed, compelling and animated. A number of Democratic legislators were introduced to warm applause. I think all of them were black. I found that strange. It was as if the white elected more liberal officials were afraid to show their faces to the media at a progressive event. Too calculating and DINO for my taste.

One of the most high-profile gadabouts at the demonstration was Brett Bursey. Brett was both an organizer and speaker. He also has a Website called the South Carolina Progressive Network. He’s the founder and power behind the site. He works tirelessly and with little compensation or even recognition, given how much he contributes to the betterment of the state.

My attendance at Truthful Tuesday yielded a re-commitment to all things progressive that represent the greatest good for the greatest number. At the event, I picked up a black-lettered scarf on a bed of red that pronounced “Enough is Enough”, the phrase we oft-repeated during the gathering.

Looking at the inhuman path the right has led us down; Enough is most certainly, ENOUGH!

Dennis S

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