First Person Series #1
Copyright 1996 by Sharon Kendrick. Copyright waived for Democratic clubs and candidates.
Events of Thursday through Saturday.
Hey, Mom! Did you hear? Newt Gingrich is coming to Contra Costa! I heard he will be speaking at the Regional Center for the Arts! I know, its great! A public place-- a place where we have the opportunity to let him know how we feel about what he's doing!
Of course, he's here supporting Bill Baker, the king of Foot-in-Mouth Disease. The perfect couple. I know-- we have to let Newt know we don't agree with him. Everytime you turn around, there he is! Claiming to be against the system, but working it every chance he gets: Meet the Press, the front page, the evening news, Face the Nation. How does he do it? And still criticise the "liberal media" for their biases? It takes a lot of nerve for Mr. Family-Values-But-Don't-Make-Me-Pay-Child-Support!
But it's perfect! Newt's arriving at 8 a.m. I could go by there on my way to work! Okay, Mom, I'll get the kids off to school (the daily miracle for a 48 year old single mom) and you can pick me up at 6:30 and and drop me off at BART right afterward. Yes, with my new job, I can't take time off, but this will work. No, I don't know what my new boss would think about it, but he'll never know. And, of course, I won't say anything to step-dad. The signed Christmas cards from George and Barbara Bush, and Ron and Nancy Reagan on the walls of his den at your house are a constant reminder that he'll never understand. We won't tell him.
Mom, did you have to say, "Where's your coat?" when you picked me up? (Its not like I'm 45, you know!) I know it's cold, but I thought the excitement would keep me warm. Yes, it is really exciting-- but it's really cold, too. I told a fellow demonstrator, "I should have listened to my Mom--she told me to wear my coat! That's her over there!" I love it! Look at all the groups who are here! ACLU, Affirmative Action, NOW, Labor, CRC, Health Care Workers, Grey Panthers, environmentalists. Yes, it's satisfying to see so many diverse groups together. Will we see anyone we know? I don't know. But it's good to know we're not alone in our concerns about the compassionless direction this man is taking our nation. Look up Mom! The "insiders" are upstairs looking down on us. Newt is late, so I guess we're the entertainment. Be sure to smile and wave; they have to know we're not lunatics, we're real people, the faces of a concerned America. Good, they're reading the signs. Notice Us! We've learned the quick fixes of term limits, Ross Perot, and even hibernating in a cave just don't work! We have to be active, involved, and concerned. Here we are!
What! No bullhorns allowed in Walnut Creek? Not exactly the heart of grass roots American politics, I guess-- no bullhorns. Can you hear? So many people and so much traffic-- the cars driving by are cheering us on. And the wonderful signs: "Corporate Welfare is Blood Money." One young man, attired from the '20s including wire-rimmed glasses, vest, neatly cropped hair and tam on his head, loose-fitting cordury slacks, spoke on behalf of labor. Makes you wonder where Norma Rae is! Hey! I know that woman from the Coalition for Reproductive Choice-- she's such a nice person! She's talking about issues of concern to Grey Panthers-- so eloquent and passionate.
Mom, where'd you get the sign? That woman brought so many extras. I guess everyone's here to share the message. Let's go with those heading toward the rear entrance. There are enough people to surround all entrances so that Newt can't ignore us. Look up. Evidently we're still the best show in town-- no Newt yet. It's really cold. All the people on their way to work are honking, waving, and cheering! I'd like to see the day when we all do that on the way to the polling booth!
How many people do you think are here? Ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred-- counting all the way 'round the building it has to be at least 200! And they come from so many groups with so many different issues, but one concern: we must not forsake compassion for greed. It's an important message, here on the "outside". I don't see much media, for the size of the crowd!
O there you are! What? He snuck in the back door? It was that quick? He didn't even look up-- shielded by many bodies and wisked in to join the "insiders"-- looking down. We still wave and smile. One woman dressed very sophisticated, gestures with hostility down toward us. Why? She doesn't know me! The important thing is that they know we're here-- we exist, they can't ignore us, and were listening, watching, taking action.
Hello? Hi mom. No, I don't know if my new boss takes the Times. Why? The FRONT page? You're kidding! I never even saw the photographer! Are we recognizable? Really? Do you think your conservative neighbors will recognize you? Well, maybe you'll discover some closet Democrats in that upscale Walnut Creek neighborhood. What did step-dad say? Thank goodness love conquers all!
The article reports Gingrich told his audience that the people outside were "misinformed,", didn't have jobs, and wanted to take their money. -- Hey! He's talking about me! He's talking about you! But he's so wrong. I'm supporting my own family and I'm as informed as the next guy. And my Mom's comfortably retired, but she's concerned too. I was there because I care about my neighbors and the future. My mother and I care. There are a lot of us who care. Many individuals, many generations. I'm confident of that. We can't stop caring.