In the most Orwellian of protest venues, outside the Portland Expo center October 30, where President Obama was scheduled to make a campaign appearance for a fellow Democrat. Staffers constantly exhorted those in line to keep their cell phones turned on, and a large screen tv erected in sight of the queue played a series of ads attacking Gov. Paul LePage so loudly it drowned out normal conversation.
When I referenced the propaganda stream a 20-something Democratic staffer attempted to straighten me out about the (false) dichotomy of corporate party politics saying, "You're on their side. They are the good guys." This is what passes for political discussion in our age.
It was one of the most interesting protests I've attended because of the interaction with the party faithful and the simply curious. I had a spool of pink ribbon with the message "President Obama: keep your promises for peace! Codepink.org" and I walked the length of the line asking who would like a ribbon. About 100 people took one.
Many reached for a ribbon after hearing me say, "Do you think it is ok to drop a bomb because it says Democrat on it? Are Democratic bombs falling on children in Syria and Iraq better than Republican bombs?" People's body language said these questions made them uncomfortable. Sometimes I added, "I don't believe you think bombing civilians is ok." Their shamed faces told the tale.
Children especially wanted a ribbon. Not all parents allowed them to take one, but some families were in harmony.
There were two tv news crews there who filmed our signs and interviewed protesters. But their editors must have killed the stories when they got back to the station because coverage of our presence and our messages is nowhere to be found.
Bringing some authentic news to the people is what motivates me to drive two hours and stand around getting cold after I've worked all day. One guy in line said about Obama and peace, "He was doing great until ISIS." I said Obama has drone bombed Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and I hoped he could find some sources of information for himself besides corporate news.
Most squirm inducing message? That the U.S. is preparing to use depleted uranium weapons in Syria and Iraq. This seemed to be new information for most of our listeners. I guess all the election reporting kind of drowns out news of nuclear warfare being waged in our name, with our tax dollars. As intended.
Thanks to our friends from Peace Action Maine who showed up with their banner. It was also neat to meet some newcomers to Portland who enthusiastically helped us hold signs and banners."I didn't know how to support peace because I just moved to Portland from Georgia," a young man named Matt told me. "A friend told me about this event and so I just came down." Matt spent quite a long time talking to Tim who had driven up from New Hampshire to join us. Both were interviewed by a t.v. news crew, but I guess you won't get a chance to hear their voices.
REVISED Nov. 1: Apparently I was wrong, and I am delighted to say so. Bruce Gagnon's interview did turn up on WGME's 6pm t.v. newscast.