Late last year I had the horror of watching Chicago 10 at the Denver Film Festival. The movie combines animated sequences with archival footage of the 1968 riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and it scared the hell out of me — especially with this year’s most outspoken protest group calling themselves “Recreate ’68.” But then … not a whole lot happened here Denver last week. What gives?
According to the Rocky Mountain News, “Sunday events initially pegged for an attendance of 20,000 were estimated by the groups and police as having drawn no more than 1,000 people. About half of the 26 scheduled parades actually happened.” And as for that plan to levitate the mint? “A few dozen protesters were outnumbered — again — by the watching media and police.”
Why such a low turnout? The Rocky asked Mike McDevitt of the University of Colorado, who credits the Bush administration’s strategy of straining our military to its breaking point by forgoing a draft. Gem Bordages, a self-proclaimed “60s hippie” who just couldn’t hide her disappointment while observing the failed Denver Mint demonstration from a bench across the street said, “It’s a different generation (today). Maybe it’s a lack of passion.”
A lack of passion??? Is that why young people across the country spent hours at churches and schools to caucus this year? Is that why my former classmates at Kenyon College waited in the rain for seven hours, becoming the last people in the country to vote in the 2004 election? Is that why my generation volunteers at rates higher than those before us? Because we have a lack of passion?!
Clearly Ms. Bordages hasn’t heard John Mayor’s song “Waiting on the world to change:”
Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it
It’s not that we don’t care,
We just know that the fight ain’t fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change
It’s not that we have a lack of passion, it’s that we know protesting doesn’t make much of a difference. Volunteering in our communities or participating in the political process actually does. We don’t want to damn the man, we want to be the man so we can run things better. Oh sure, protesting can be a fun way to pass some time on a Saturday afternoon, but it’s not what changes the world. Not in America, not when we have a democracy that actually works. We don’t have to throw the bums out when we can vote them out.
And what about Recreate ’68, who the Rocky said had the most events that completely fell flat? From their co-founder, Glenn Spagnuolo: “It’s not a numbers game for me, so I don’t keep count on that.” Yeah, OK, Glenn, whatever helps you sleep at night.
Colorado Independent’s blog-i-nist (blogger-columnist) Jeff Bridges has worked in Democratic politics for the last 10 years, serving as communications director for two congressional races in Colorado and two governor’s races in the Deep South. Bridges also worked for Sen. Ken Salazar as a legislative assistant in D.C., and currently serves on the board of directors for New Era Colorado and the Colorado Conservation Voters.