I decided to write this as I sat in my living room watching Tea Party coverage on television last Saturday. I was crying, to my own surprise. Not just little tears either–huge, wracking, choking sobs rising up within me and giant drops streaming down my face–at the sight of several hundred thousand average people holding homemade signs and repeating well-known, but heartfelt slogans.
I wrote a few days ago about the 9-12 Project, a concept that I, and many other Americans, honestly believe in. It’s going back to the memory of how we felt on September 12th, 2001, and trying to encourage that same kind of honesty and unity in today’s fractious political climate.
There were somewhere between one and two MILLION people (yes, folks, million. This was no fringe crowd here) who showed up for the 9-12 Rally in D.C. and most just wanted to have their voices heard in a peaceful way. Across the country, citizens gathered to share their concerns and exercise their right to free speech. That I saw, there were no arrests, no riots, and no distasteful signs. Despite this peaceful majority however, it’s astounding to me that the White House and the mainstream media have spent such little time on this story, or the motives behind it.
Throughout the last few weeks, President Obama has made the statement that he only wants to instate health care reform because of the many letters he is receiving that “beg for reform”. Oddly enough, when letters come in asking for different reform or a stop to health care reform altogether, the response is “You’re wrong.” (Click the link for the full interview with David Axelrod).
In a Democratic republic, by the people and for the people, when the people–concerned citizens, hard workers, and patriotic individuals show up to voice their concerns–the response should not be “You’re wrong”. Such dismissive behavior has gone on long enough towards those who are far from the D.C. elite, the average, hard-working Americans who just want clarity and a chance to voice their concerns.
The president vowed to listen to us, as all presidents should. When on the campaign trail, he promised new Washington transparency, a finger on the pulse of the American people and compassion towards our needs. However, it seems that if our needs don’t coincide with his administration’s wants, we may be ignored and unappreciated.
Which takes my back to my tears, that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. It’s unusual for a young woman to be this passionate about politics, let alone be found weeping at footage from a political rally on a sunny Saturday afternoon. But I cry because I care. I care about my country. I care about my fellow citizens. I’m so relieved to find that I’m not alone, that someone else wants us to come together without accusations of racism and bigotry, just good old-fashioned patriotic debate.
You may not care in the same way, but I know that you do care. You may completely support health care reform. And because of our great country, you have the freedom to some to a rally like this and win support for your point of view, and no one from government should ever tell you that you’re wrong for doing so. We should all be proud of those who stood up for their beliefs last Saturday, not demean their views just because we don’t agree. That amazing freedom that we have, and the sense that we are in this together, as Americans, as we were on Sept. 12, 2001, should bring tears to all of our eyes.