Grand Rapids is not exactly a Democratic safe zone. Very little of West Michigan is, save for the Democratic island of Muskegon County.
GR is home to the billionaire DeVos family who made their fortunes from tricking the desperate, dead ended, and starry eyed into investing hundreds or tens of thousands into becoming part of a huge pyramid scheme once known as AmWay, now known as Alticor. Incidentally, the brother in law of 2006 gubernatorial candidate and AmWay owner Dick DeVos is the infamous Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater Security, now known as Xe.
What I'm trying to get at here is, Grand Rapids has deep roots in the crazy religious right, with many very wealthy and connected backers. With the help of some brilliant and dedicated Democrats, the city is starting to shift. But it's still a seat of intense conservatism.
So when I say that in Grand Rapids the Pro Health Care Reformers outnumbered the Teabaggers, that is no small thing. And we did.
The tides are starting to turn.
The Teabaggers, guided and deployed by insurance interests, sucker punched us with the sudden and vitriolic protests. But like some All American Rocky Balboa figure, bleeding from the jaw after a solid right hook, we're getting back up with a blinding upper cut.
We outnumber them. And they know it. They know it and they're scared. Obama knows it. Baucus knows it.
When I arrived I climbed up on a marble wall and did a head count while holding my sign up. On my side of the street, between 150 to 200 pro health protesters. The local news says "more than 70" which is technically true. But "About 150" would be more accurate. The counter-protesters, waving white flags with black lettering clocked in at 30 people at most. (another news source got it right at 200)
I saw pictures of the Teabagging protests from yesterday, and read reports. Their numbers never approached 100. Even in Grand Rapids.
A teabagger came up to me and handed me this bit of literature:
of West Michgian
Our Mission Statement
To influence policy and effect the election of government officials who will defend and protect the original meaning of our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
- To preserve the economic future for our children
- To work for a return to the principles of our governing constitution.
- To demand limited government.
- To promote the free market that made our country the leader of the world.
- To give support for individual and property rights.
- To provide a platform for giving like minded people a voice.
Join us in the fight.
I found it interesting that their literature has nothing to do with health care reform, their leaflet counter-punch at a health care rally avoided any statements on health care at all.
As the handful of Teabaggers across the street brayed over a bull horn about speaking for The People, Pro Health Care Reform advocates formed a line spanning the side of a whole city block shouting "What do we want? Public Option! When do we want it? Now!" and singing the National Anthem bolstered by the honking of passing cars.
My five year old son joined in. Yelling loudly. Waving a blue Organizing for America sign. He looked down at me and smiled "Are we winning???"
You know what? We just might be.
Send a few bucks to the congress people who have sworn to work for us on the public option