Report from Bush's Speech Canton, Ohio
So I went with my mom (who was in the mood to see a spectacle) to the speech at the Palace theater today. Did I go inside and listen? Of course not! I've heard his canned speech a thousand times, and I saw him speak in 2000 anyway. No, the real action is outside at the protest, and the protestors were out in force. No, I have not decided between Badarnik and Bush yet, but I don't want to get into that now.
So I approached with my Bush-Cheney '04 Yard Sign (it has the two prongs, which I used to hold by each hand in the air) over to the opposite corner where the Kerry supporters were organizing. Immediatly the jeers started. Expected. What was unexpected was that quite a few of those jeering were yelling in accents that weren't quite from this area - and those were the people yelling the loudest. More unexpected was a group of these people who seemed bused in surrounded me, and grabbed the plastic portion of my sign from me. To the cheers, applause, and laughter of the crowd.
I was pissed. I ran at the 6'2 300 pound guy and demanded my sign back. Bare in mind that I'm 5 foot 7 inches, and 150 pounds. Not a fair fight, and the guy was on the verge of slugging me as he pushed me aside. I went back and demanded the sign again. He said "Fuck you, your guy is a jerk." I responded that may be his ignorant view, but we live in a country where I am entitled to my own view - and its ironic when the supporters of a candidate (Kerry) who claims to support civil liberties go around acting like fascist goons. He pushed me away again, but I saw him put my sign in his back pocket (remember, it's printed on a plastic bag). So I pickpocketed him and started fighting with the guy for it. At which point some men from the Kerry Campaign, to their credit, asked him to give it back to me.
With my sign back, the Kerry people then did next best thing to theft - they started to put their signs in front of mine. So I danced around them, trying to keep my sign in view. At which point my mom arrived, who was accosted by a large woman who started ejecting spittle at my moms face as she demanded that my mom put her son to rights. My mom just laughed and told her to get her chest out of her face.
At this point the protest moved to the outside of the theater itself. We followed. On the way steel workers demanded to know why Bush cost them their jobs. I asked why Bush should reward special interests such as them. That caught them off guard, but they then just reverted to other slogans. Such as "Outsource Bush! Outsource Bush!" Of course, I can yell louder than most, so I said with a grin "Get a creative slogan! Get a creative slogan!" Surprisingly, people started laughing - I had reached the palace theater and there were now people with Bush signs (one of the more creative ones had a butchered drawing of Kerry with the line Scary Kerry). I was no longer outnumbered 100 to 2 - now it was more like 250 to 50!
I spent a long time working up the crowd that supported Bush. I pointed to my sign, which was tattered but in one piece - "Does what happened to this sign look like the work of those who are in favor of civil liberties?" - I asked to a chorus of "No!" It got caught on TV Camera. Reporters asked me what happened, and choosing my words carefully, I told them. I doubt anything will come of it.
Soon a small crowd of the Kerry supporters surrounded me and wanted to grill me on Bush. Having grilled Bush myself mentally on a daily basis, I knew the arguments, and have quite a few original counters of my own. The crowd grew larger until it was about 1/4 of the protest. Arguments on why Bush is greatest possible disaster of all time were flowing two, three, four at a time. One frequent question was why wasn't I in Iraq if I was against Kerry? Shouldn't I enlist, or wasn't I a coward? I responded with the following argument that even Sasha Volokh liked in the past, and which I posted here before - if only those who can support a war are those who bare the cost (i.e. fight in it) then it stands to reason that only those that pay the majority of taxes (i.e. the rich) should be able to vote on them as well. Clearly we don't have such a policy.
Other questions dealt with Bush's Iraq war. My response to that was it is not a question of whether knowing what we know now if Bush made the right decision - rather the question is if Bush made the right decision knowing what he knew at the time it was made. Of course the "tax cut for the rich" came up, and I pointed out that government revenue would most likely be maximized with a tax that was more flat, and to arrive there, cutting the taxes for the rich is a necessary first step. Others wanted to end steel production overseas an outsourcing, but I pointed to them that this would serve to raise the price of that product, costing jobs in industries that rely on it, hurt the consumers who purchase it, and will result in retaliatory tariffs that will hurt the country much more than jobs lost to imported steel ever would. I pleaded with them that even if Bush was in their minds a bad president, Kerry could not help but be worse.
He will appoint judges that believe in a "living constitution" - the idea advocated by Bruce Ackerman that you can ammend the constitution not just through traditional means, but by a popular reinterpretation of the document. He will raise spending signficantly more than bush - his programs come in at over $2 trillion on paper. If you use the old rule of thumb that you multiply a government program's stated initial cost by three to get its eventual cost, you end up $6 trillion - of which he can find, AT BEST $800 billion (more likely much less) to pay for them. His diplomatic policy towards North Korea is dangerous (he wants to remove China from the bargaining table, which is the only country that has any real leverage). Along with his stated belief of a need for meeting a "global test" before international action, there is little evidence that he will take an internationally unpopular action that is in our nation's best interest when the two diverge. Add his increase on demogouery over Bush on issues dealing with international trade, and we will have a disaster on our hands.
The arguments went on and on. Many have not been put in this post, but I can't remember them at this time. The crowd grew larger and more calm as they heard my answers, but then new angry people would come in, demand answers to the same or similiar questions, and then start fighting with those that had heard my answers as they wanted more. In the end I don't know how many, if any minds I changed today. But I do know that one kid told my mother he learned more from listening to me in one day than he had by reading the BBC, the NYTimes, and other publications in the past year. Another high school teacher told my mom that she was going to make my blog required reading for her class so they could be better informed. So maybe I made a small difference after all.