At the Elks Lodge in Kingman, Tuesday August 11th the billed guests of honor, State Reps. Nancy McLain and Doris Goodale, along with State Senator Ron Gould, were no-shows, probably down in Phoenix doing more damage to the health education and welfare of the good people of Arizona. Meanwhile, at this meeting, there was another guest attending however, a lone protester with 3 signs. I know about the protester in question because it was me.
Standing outside a respectful distance across the street or beyond the driveway and acting politely (which is my usual protest mode) I held up 3 signs while the Kingman GOP arrived, met and departed, staying about three hours to make sure most of the folks attending had a chance to see my message if they cared to look.
My signs read: 1) "AZ GOP/Tax Cuts for the Rich/ School Cuts for Your Kids." 2) The second one had that slogan + "Who Are They Really Working for? Not AZ, Not US." 3) The 3rd was a blown up picture of the Constitution w/ the words: ““Insure Domestic Tranquility”/ “Promote the General Welfare”/ These are the REAL American Values.”
I have been protesting for now 30 years--occasionally, during wartimes for example, in some pretty hostile territory. It is scary to go to the stronghold of your opposition and tell them you think they're wrong. Tonight, however, i was treated as well, no, make that I was treated clearly better than i have ever been in such a situation. I almost felt supported. Tonight in Kingman, at their own meeting, which they failed to attend, the AZ GOP leadership clearly was not.
I received FAR more thumbs up than middle fingers and a couple of folks stopped to tell their support. Dozens smiled to me as they passed. My protest was not about Democrats versus Republicans. It was about Arizona’s education budget in the hands of AZ’s current anti-public-education leadership. The rank and file citizens of Kingman apparently do not like this don't like the AZ GOP Ed plan either. Maybe they have kids.
It was interesting to see what the locals really feel without the statehouse party leaders on hand. One woman came and explained that inside the scene was an unhappy one. Local GOP officers filled in for the missing Goodale, Gould and McLain and openly stated that they didn't like the new budget plans. While at the mic the one official supposedly said, bitterly, that down in Phoenix they didn't know what they were doing.
Unlike my mostly silent and consciously polite protest (I admit I also played guitar during the slack times when nobody was outside as I waited peacefully outside in the 100 degree + weather), during the meeting there was a call for disruptors to attend Harry Reid's the Elks Lodge townhall meeting in Searchlight, NV on Wed. Aug. 26th. Lately the press has plainly found the pattern in the dangerous behavior of the so called "astroturf" agitators: paid organizers and political hecklers who travel around the country to attend and disrupt healthcare townhall meetings. Instead of discussion, they have promoted discord and even violence in an effort to keep their opponents silent and crush the actual democracy they claim to be protecting.
In this case the operatives are seeking to bring folks in from another state. Of course Reid is the Senate Majority Leader and as such everyone's elected official. But with my example there before them, but was disappointing to hear of this plan still being hatched in front of this crowd of my fellow citizens. That kind of behavior was not entirely supported by the local GOP. One of the women stopped by to show her support and said, “Please keep making noise. I hope somebody hears it.”
I replied, “I’ve been trying to polite. Tell them to be polite in Searchlight.”
She smiled and said, “Exactly.”
As sweet as that scene was, it is not to suggest that the entire evening was confrontation free. There were some clenched faces and raised fingers among the cars leaving at the end of the evening, including a particularly hilariously grimacing old woman in a white sun bonnet. But my favorite was the middle-aged redneck woman who read the sign about insuring domestic tranquility and promoting the general welfare then yelled out, “Welfare my a_ _!” Not recognizing that the lines come from the Preamble to our very own US Constitution. Form a more perfect union, provide for the common defense, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty, you know, the stuff we claim we want our government to be about.
With angry undereducated folks like that, I guess it is small wonder that the current AZ GOP still has some die-hard supporters on this ed budget. But judging from the looks and behavior of the Kingman area Republicans attending tonight, I am proud to report that the majority of my fellow citizens in attendance are smarter than that.
Must’ve been in school before the budgets got cut.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.