From 12:00 to 2:00 PM (Eastern) today 300 people gathered at McPherson Square, three blocks from the White House in Washington, DC, and shouted “Restore the Fourth.” One would like to believe President Obama heard us.
In any case, this was an energetic crowd, overwhelmingly young but with a sprinkling of geezers such as yours truly. As to politics, libertarianism was a heavy presence (two speakers from the formal Libertarian Party and one from the Cato Institute), but progressives were there (one speaker from the Institute for Policy Studies, among others), as were representatives of the Greens, Code Pink, and I saw one man in a LaRouche T-shirt. (The organizer herself told me she is a not particularly political feminist.) All these tendencies were uniting to demand restoration of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and an end to the surveillance state.
The high point was the appearance of the one whistle-blower who is not presently jailed or exiled, Thomas Drake, who gave a pep talk appropriate for the occasion. The best actual argument was that of a Libertarian candidate for State office in Virginia, who, as against General Alexander’s 50 foiled plots that he can’t tell us about, read a list of ten or so actual terrorist events since 9/11 that the NSA did nothing to stop. Statements were read from Sen, Rand Paul, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Congressman Alan Grayson, and former governor Gary Johnson. (Kucinich’s was the best, ending wittily with “If you see something, say something.”)
Due homage was paid to Edward Snowden, as well as Bradley Manning and the late Aaron Swartz, but everyone was clear that it was their revelations that were the issue. Moreover, several speakers stressed that this rally must be only the beginning: further action is needed.
The one sour note, I thought, was when the other Libertarian speaker correctly said that the Patriot Act and NDAA must be repealed, but then equated this with voting Libertarian, an unnecessary bit of sectarianism. Other than that the rally was an inspirational coming together of various political tendencies around a worthy goal.
That was my experience. Tell me yours: it’s an open thread.
To start it off, marym in IL supplied my last thread with this photo from Boston.
Photo by Jeff Couturier under Creative Commons license