Liberal activists gathered in Washington D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday afternoon and participated in the “One Nation Working Together” rally. Attendees roared and chanted often in response to speakers’ various remarks, but uncertainty about the November elections still permeated throughout the group.
While the crowd, mainly composed of labor members and other left-wing organizations, cheered their movement’s leaders hoping to fire each other up and help bring out support for Democrats on November 2, a far smaller crowd turned out than last month’s more conservative Glen Beck-Sarah Palin rally in the same location.
While it appeared that most participants were supporters of the Obama administration, 2008 Ralph Nader supporter, David Barrows of Washington, D.C. told me, “I’m very disappointed [with the Obama administration.] I’m here to protest war and occupation, because that’s where all the money is going. It’s going there—not for jobs, not for the environment, and not for education,” he said. “I prefer to see the Green Party or someone like Kucinich. He needs to challenge Obama in the next election.”
Obama supporters, though, seemed more concerned that the “One Nation” rally may have happened a little too late and too many Democrats are do not want to be attached to the president.
“I think it’s coming way too late. I think the Democrats have come out way too late. It’s terrible. I just hope Obama turns the TV on and sees people do love him. I think he’s been looking a little depressed, you know?” New York City resident Valerie Mackend said.
An elected union delegate to his Brooklyn school Nils DeVita agreed saying, “That’s been the argument. Maybe we waited a year too long, but let’s just remember the lawmakers are coming up for election and we hope they do the right thing, because we’re watching. Earlier would have been better, but we’re here now.”
Althea Trice, a teacher from Pennsylvania believes it is “never ever too late” for a rally like [One Nation] “unless the vote is over.”
“I was at my school and my UFT chapter leader Lourdes Camacho came in and said, ‘Some of the teachers want to get together, and we want to get a bus to go down to Washington. The union is supporting it. They’re having busses available for us. Would you like to go?’ I was like, ‘Yeah why not?’” said Ms. Trice.
As far as November is concerned, liberals appear resigned for what is being predicted as a tough re-election cycle, but liberal activists can only hold on to hope that the many polls reporting Republicans will take one or both House will be wrong.
“I’d say it’s about 50/50. A month ago, I thought the progressives were really going to take a shellacking. I’m a little more hopeful now,” said Stratford, Connecticut resident Richard Pancost. “I’m less confident in some of the polls that have been taken. I don’t think they really measure what’s going to happen in individual states and individual districts.”
While “hope” may have mobilized voters to the polls in November of 2008, November 2010 will require much more from Democrats to bring out not just their base but independent voters who voted for Mr. Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party. The One Nation rally certainly preached to the choir, but it may be too late for the Democrats to add anybody else to the pews.