Vice President Dick Cheney came to town yesterday. Yes indeed, the VP himself. Motorcade, closed streets, protestors… all the pomp and circumstance one would expect of such a high level visitor. On a very personal note, I wish he had consulted with me first. It just so happened that I had an appointment in downtown Sacramento at the very same time he came rolling through. I knew he was coming… everyone did; I just didn’t know where, exactly. As it turned out, luck was on my side and the inconvenience I suffered was negligible. And the spectacle was worth it – sort of.
I have been in the immediate vicinity of a high level state visit in the past. I saw Air Force One fly into NAS Moffet Field and the subsequent motorcade when President Clinton visited the Silicon Valley during his presidency. That is not the spectacle that I’m talking about. I have seen a great many protests in the past; many seem to attract the same crowds. These protesters, however, were somewhat different. It might have been that I was “in disguise” or perhaps the general disposition of those protesting has become totally intolerant, or maybe I still retained some degree of naïveté, but I came away with a foul taste in my mouth. And… wondering which side I’m on.
I am no fan of this administration. I don’t think it’s competent and I don’t think it’s intelligent. Mistakes have been huge. However, for the most part, I don’t feel that the administration is necessarily “corrupt.” I don’t think they are intentionally trying to harm anyone. I believe that they believe they’re acting in the nation’s best interest. I think there are major issues that have, at their core, an egocentric view of the world that doesn’t allow for any deviation from “staying the course.” Faults? To be sure. Incompetence? Probably; Ignorance? Absolutely. Maliciousness? I don’t think so.
All this brings me to the protestors that came from out of nowhere yesterday. They appeared to take their disagreements rather personally. It is almost as if Cheney knew these individuals, decided that for whatever reason he did not like them and went out of his way to do things that he knew would piss them off. Like they’re that important! I saw them chant; I heard the accusations and I get that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction with this administration and the Vice President in particular. I not only get that, I share it. I do not, however, take the actions of the Vice President as a personal affront.
“Rumor has it that the asshole is going to J and 13th. We can catch up to the asshole there.”
This is a direct quote from one of the protestors. There was an odd kind of glee in her tone. It made me cringe. I don’t know Cheney well enough to refer to him in such personally derogatory terms. I can’t identify with such juvenile behavior. If I want to change the way things are, I certainly wouldn’t go about alienating those “less radical” than myself to further my cause. What they have effectively done is reduce the argument to one of civility versus anarchy. Guess which side I choose? My eyes forced open, I started to look around and I didn’t like what I saw.
I don’t look like your normal downtown urbanite. I’m usually wearing jeans and a T-shirt; I have long hair and generally consider myself a non-conformist. Because the appointment I had yesterday demanded a certain level of decorum, I had my hair tied back in a ponytail. I was wearing a modest pinstriped suit, blue dress shirt and a tie. I looked “respectable.” The numerous law enforcement personnel present also treated me respectfully. It is a dichotomy I have been aware of in the past and I know being a “rebel” or a “renegade” or an “individualist” requires a certain level of acceptance.
Yesterday the difference was glaring and quite frankly, I am glad I was not associated with the protestors. Not so much because of what they were protesting, but how they were protesting. The myopic, egocentric and intolerant view that the administration is so often accused of was exhibited ten-fold by many of the protestors (of course, the most vocal and visible) with the added bonus of sporadic, but regular maliciousness thrown in. No matter how much I disagree with the administration, I won’t lower myself to a shouting match.