Washington The front page news may have been the high drama of health care passage in the House, but between the White House and the Capitol, filling blocks inside the Mall, the story was the demand of thousands from all over the country, and in this case all over the world, who were coming to demand immigration reform. It was an exciting crowd on a beautiful, warm, Spring day in DC.
I would focus on some simple things.
One is relatively speaking how young the majority of the rally participants were. They have their own issues and interests around the DREAM act to support education, but talking with them, I got the feeling they were spirited and passionate partly because they were proxies for their parents and others. Whether born here or not, this was where they were raised, this was their country, their culture, and their home. This brings real passion and spirit to this emerging movement.
Secondly, they are not just frustrated, they are angry, and they are not just angry at Congress or the right, but they are disappointed and angry at President Obama as well. Curiously, there was a videotaped message at the rally from President Obama. It’s a head scratcher why the rally organizers allowed it, since as the chants said repeatedly, Obama escucha – Obama listen! People wanted reform now and “best efforts” were not the answer. Many waved signs about broken promises and promises to be kept. It would be a message to think that one could co-op the anger in the base, even if I can imagine how the rally managers might have trouble saying “no” to the White House and Obama’s demand not to see the “target” of the rally. My bet is that March 21st will be the last “pass” the President gets without delivery real good.
Third, is there a movement here? The real possibility of a bona fide, don’t stop until we win movement. I think very possibly “yes.” But, to have a movement, we will have to start operating and acting like a movement, and that may be a bigger challenge. The troops are courageous wearing shirts about being undocumented and unfair, but the leaders are going to have to step up and shift the ground to have a chance at winning.
This is going to a story worth watching and pushing forward with everything we have!
There’s probably real relief in the rally headquarters today, but the tough decisions and hard work may now be unavoidable, and this will be a fight of heroic porportions.