Rally Schmally

I was going to comment in response to mamcita, but just decided to post instead.

I don't get excited about rallies as a general rule. About a year ago I was on the Organizing Committee in my grad union and helped organize a student rally. I think it was to protest tuition hikes and the generally anti-higher-education climate in the Wisconsin state leg, but I don't even remember exactly. My attitude about that rally was lukewarm at best for two reasons. First, I was out of town with a touring opera company on the day of the rally, so I couldn't even be there. Secondly, and more importantly, I didn't really believe that rally was going to be at all effective, even if people skipped class to attend. Originally, more gung-ho activists wanted to organize a student strike, but they knew it couldn't be pulled off, so they compromised and settled for a rally instead. When you're trying to organize a protest of some kind, you're often in a catch-22. A strike, whether it's a labor strike or student strike, is certainly more effective, but it's extremely difficult to convince people to participate. A rally, on the other hand, is an action in which people will more willingly participate, but it's not disruptive enough to be effective. So, more often than not, people organize rallies, which can take tremendous time and energy if you want a good turn-out, and all you get for it is a little bit of media attention and maybe a warm-fuzzy feeling for trying to do the right thing.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country marching for one specific cause is a different matter, though. It's sad that one day of protesting will probably be forgotten all too soon, BUT I think they still surprised the pols in the sheer number that turned out, especially considering how many of them had to sacrifice a whole day's wage (not insignificant when you're living day-to-day) to do it. I don't think that was lost on the reps who want our votes in a few months.


Steph said…
I think it's possible these immigrant rights rallies might be the start of a movement. They seem to have really taken lawmakers by surprise. Daniel Schorr had some interesting stuff to say about it last night on NPR:


I'd like to write more about my own thoughts/experiences with activist rallies, but perhaps, considering that I'm in the middle of house closing, I should wait and do it next week on my own blog.
mamacita said…
It's taken me awhile to post....I'm sure you understand being a mom yourself!

I have a feeling, as Steph posted, that this may be the beginning of a movement. I'm impressed that immgrants have had the guts to get out in public and protest for their rights considering that our government has the power to kick them right out of the country. However, they are already paying the price for speaking out...some immigrants have lost their jobs for attending rallies.

Bush has succeeded in avoiding the issue for 6 years now, but it's a critical issue that is not going to go away.

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