Detroit's a special place. On Labor Day, it doesn't just have one labor union parade.
It has two.
Yes, in Detroit both the building trades union and the AFL-CIO both held simultaneous parades to celebrate workers in general and union membership specifically. The theme of the day was "Labor and Community: We are One". Thousands of union members walked along the streets of Detroit, streets that are showing surprising amounts of life and resurgence despite the tales of gloom and doom we read about on a daily basis. Detroit's quiet reemergence from the desperate economic straits we're in was reflected in the quiet dignity of the union members who walked today. In their faces you could see hope, resolve and an acknowledgment that they are stronger speaking with one voice than they could ever hope to be alone. Out of many, they are indeed one.
Both parades ended at Hart Plaza in the very heart of the city. From there, they walked a short distance to an area between the majestic Renaissance Center and the Detroit River. There, thousands had already gathered to hear speeches by various political dignitaries and labor leaders.
Here's a look at the crowd a full hour before the president even arrived.
Take a look at that crowd. Old people. Young people. Union members. Non-union members. Black, white, Hispanic, mixed-race. There is almost nothing in this country as diverse as an Obama rally in Michigan!
Aretha Franklin even came out to show her appreciation. As she sang R-E-S-P-E-C-T, she ran through a list of men she respects, ending with the President as the one she most respects.
If you pay attention only the most prominent liberal/Democratic websites or the main news outlets, you probably have come to the conclusion that the Democratic "base", whatever that means, has deserted the President. You probably believe that the economic recession we're suffering through, a downturn that has impacted a city like Detroit far more intensely than most, has caused both traditional Democratic voters along with the millions of new voters that turned out in 2008 to be abandoning Barack Obama.
You would be quite wrong. According to the Detroit Free Press, some 12,000 people turned out to see the President speak today. And look at the reception they gave him:
You can't look at a crowd that big and that and enthusiastic and honestly tell me the President has lost his base. He hasn't.
"The time for Washington games is over. The time for action is now. No more manufactured crises. No more games. Now is not the time for the people you sent to Washington to worry about their jobs; now is the time for them to worry about your jobs."
"When I hear some of these folks trying to take collective bargaining rights away, trying to pass so-called "right to work" laws for private sector workers -- that really mean the right to work for less and less and less -- when I hear some of this talk I know this is not about economics. This is about politics. And I want everybody here to know, as long as I'm in the White House I'm going to stand up for collective bargaining."
The Detriot Free Press has a nice overview of the day including a bit of Aretha Franklin's amazing performance:
We'll have an interactive panoramic image up later today so be sure to stop by Eclectablog later to see it.
Cross-posted from Eclectablog.com.
10:01 AM PT: We now have an interactive panoramic image up at Eclectablog. Be sure to check it out!