Monday, September 22, 2003

Democrats Rolling Thunder Down Home Tour

Whisked up to Manchester for the big Dems event - stopping along the way for the total cultural contrast of the Nashua Police Expo which was held in the grounds of the Bud brewery. Guns, choppers, bomb squad, marines, brawn, tattoos and a lot of obese women wearing shorts. The American "right" at play. I talked to some very sincere young servicemen, felt the weight of a machine gun, was shown assorted bombs and had a good look at an army rescue helicopter. Everyone was eating hotdogs - but, hungry as I was, I could not come at the country's favorite snack.

We schussed on to Manchester where we happened on a sweet Hungarian restaurant with street tables. A stuffed pepper, coffee and a delicious Dobos cake later we meandered to the park where they attempted to charge us $20 each to enter the Rolling Thunder. I've never been charged to hear a politician before! I was in shock. They explained that they had spent $50,000 to hire everything and fly in the people etc - and finding that Michael Moore has suddenly the headliner, well, I negotiated, forked out $10 a head and in we went. There was no way in the world I was going to miss Mike Moore - even though we had attended principally to hear Dennis Kucinich. Moore was standing in for Jim Hightower who had to cancel all the 11th hour due to a family death. I had never heard of Hightower. But Moore!! Well, he is one of my few pinups in this world. What a treat. How lucky was I. Preen preen!

What an odd event was the Rolling Thunder. A lot of stands - all the Dem candidates represented, of course, with an emphasis on Kucinich who has only recently opened a NH office and was coming along to speak. There were also peace activist stands and all sorts of environmental issues along with The Greens, some performance artists and a sound stage with a schedule of activities - music and speeches. Oddly, Kucinich was not on the schedule and were were a little confused. But it was such a perfect day. We set our chairs in the shade, listened to assorted fairly dull provincial speeches and watched the world go by. Wonderful, interesting people.

I sensed Kucinich activity and saw people carrying his placards through the park, so I followed and was told he was about to speak in one of the tents. I rallied Bruce, grabbed the chairs and found a good place on the side where I could watch both Kucinich and his supporters. He spoke passionately, a firebrand. He spoke sense, although I could feel my scientist husband flinching on the subject of Genetic Engineering. Kucinich will not be his man. And I don't think Kucinich will be "the" man. But he is a wonderful man of rare integrity - and I liked him immensely. I also liked the people he attracted - a sea of sensibility, civilized, educated, gentle people.

We returned to the lawns and set our chairs close to the stage to hear the divine Mike Moore.
He is a liberal hellraiser - and he fulfilled all my expectations, witty, fearless, provocative, astute. He is one of the great American heroes - for one has to be incredibly brave to take his stance beneath the aggressive dominance of the country's religious right. He has done the country immense good overseas, to some extent rescuing its damaged post-Bush reputation. "Bowling for Columbine" was a hit and had record runs in cinemas across Australia. It made Aussies love Americans again - because they had found an American who was not aligned with the cultural brutality being projected by Bush and Fox.
Of course Moore received a standing ovation. Rightly so.
I would have loved to hang around as a groupie and shake hands with him, but apparently he was flown in and out on a tight schedule and had to be driven straight back to the airport.

Nonethless, I left the park deleriously happy at the way in which the day had unfolded, feeling blessed to be in New Hampshire where the political process has a peerless energy and vibrancy.

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