17 thoughts on “What Democracy Looks Like”

  1. Wait, I thought democracy looked like busloads of purple-shirted union employees demonstrating outside a state capitol and/or spoiled trust fund kiddies complaining about the cost of their degree in Comparative African Art in a park near Wall Street.

    Or at least that’s what the media told me. So confused now…

    1. What was the actual turnout?

      In 1994 we had a gun rights rally at the capitol in Pennsylvania where the attendance was 8,000 to 10,000. It accomplished less than nothing, as almost exactly a year later the General Assembly passed the most comprehensive gun control bill is state history. They were inside working on it while we were posturing out on the steps.

      I don’t want to be a downer — though I am — but I’m saying keep these things in perspective. Tangible things like the boycotts and local government resolutions in opposition mean as much or more. Think of what to get those people to do, that’s tangible.

      And, looking at that photo, I don’t see any torches or pitchforks, and those windows look like they still have glass in them. So, they should take the big crowd seriously, exactly why?

      1. I tend to agree with your overall skepticism of rallies as a tactic, and there’s a possibility this will be a flash in the pan too, and the politicians will come to believe those people’s votes are already figured into the current status quo.

        But one value events like this do have is convincing our people they are not alone, and to inspire them to do something. That’s mostly why I highlight it, when the turnout is impressive. I think it’s important for some people to not feel like they are isolated, alone, and swimming against the current. That’s what makes people give up, and give in to the other side. That’s what makes people think their view is extreme, and other people don’t share it.

        Our opponents spend a lot of resources trying to convince people, including those nominally on our side, that these views are extreme and they don’t represent a mainstream viewpoint, shared by a lot of people. I think it’s important to provide examples that’s just not true.

        1. I saw 10,000 armed Americans willing to stand up for freedom.

          Even if 10% engage in acts of civil disobedience — and looking at their signs, most do not plan on complying — that is one thousand armed felons to raid, prosecute, and jail. There are likely many, many more than that state-wide.

          Knowing that the community supports you and that you are not alone is huge when encouraging civil disobedience tactics.

      2. It was 12K and they didn’t just gather outside, there was lobbying in the morning. The lines were 1.5 hours long just to get through security in order to enter the legislative office building.

  2. But, it is also possible (and common) for people to go home thinking they “Really showed them,” and then collectively drop the ball, without realizing they showed them nothing at all, except that umpteen people who all agree (for the moment) can be lured to get together in one place.

    Without going into a great deal of analysis, what enabled us to get almost 10,000 people to Harrisburg in 1994 was the spontaneous energy that had been imparted by having a near-miss with a state AWB in 12/93 – 01/94, following close on the heels of the Brady Law and other Clinton initiatives. But following the “success” of that rally, and the ill-founded reassurance of the Republican UnRevolution of that fall, the energy had been dissipated, and when anti-gun legislation was sprung on us unexpectedly not long after election day, we were easily led to using our energy fighting each other over its competing provisions, rather than fighting gun control.

    What I’m really preaching here is, sure, go to your rallies, but while you’re feeling good about yourself, someone had better be harboring some doubts that that alone is going to be enough, or amount to much more than a start.

    1. What I’m really preaching here is, sure, go to your rallies, but while you’re feeling good about yourself, someone had better be harboring some doubts that that alone is going to be enough, or amount to much more than a start.

      I completely agree with that.

      1. I don’t want to belabor this thread, but one thought I think needs emphasizing is, all a rally does is display several thousand people who were all going to vote the same way, anyway, pretty much regardless of what they did. You are not showing them anything they didn’t know already.

        That is important to think about, because for the moment the vote is the only weapon we have that means anything. We can shout as loud as we want, and make up all the edgy banners and posters we can think of, but people’s actions in the voting booth are the only thing they need to care about. Unless we can cause them to worry about that, by doing something they haven’t seen before, we aren’t doing anything.

  3. This is great.

    One thing we have changed in Maryland is we are not doing rallies on their own anymore. We are actually pushing to move people inside the buildings and sign up for the hearings.

    I had a State Senator of 50 odd years here who told me that in all his time, they’ve never seen what we did. “The rallies come and go. The bus pulls up, the people get off and march down the street. Then they sit and eat a lunch while someone yells into a bullhorn. They march up the street again, get on their bus and go home. Then their lobbyists come in and ask, ‘Did you hear us out there?'”

    Gun people did the rally, but then we signed up to testify by the thousands. That was different. Now people were in their offices telling them what to do. It scared them.

    Will that translate into us stopping the bill?

    Hope so. But I can tell you now that there are some lawmakers who betrayed us when it counted, who are not coming back after next year’s statewide election.

    My advice: team the rally with an influx of the chambers and the hearings. Make them stay all night hearing people testify 3 minutes at a time.

    1. I like that because it is something new, and it is disruptive. I’m glad someone has been thinking!

  4. Sadly, this will make no difference. Liberals far outnumber conservatives and libertarians in New York, so the law will never be repealed by legislation. New York was lost long ago my friends.

    1. There have been places in the world, including the First World, where the local government was not the government, and other entities were. If what you are saying about NY is true, maybe it’s time to work on that in NY.

      A law is only a law to the extent that it is or can be enforced.

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