Third Party & Independents Archives

Kerry and Edwards in St. Louis

I attended the Kerry Edwards rally in St Louis, MO yesterday. The turnout was tremendous, apparently more so than the organizers had expected. Estimates are that 15,000 people were there, and it certainly looked about that many to me. Our current Governor and the Democratic candidate for Governor in November were both in attendance, as was Congressional Representative Dick Gephardt. I left before Edwards and Kerry arrived, unfortunately, but I found the event itself to be fascinating.

My last political event was the Green Party National Convention in 2000. The slate in St. Louis would have a hard time competing with the sheer charisma and passion of Jello Biafra, Helen Caldicott, and Ralph Nader, but they were credible and committed. A few frat looking guys went all the way up to the barricades at the front and whipped out Bush/Cheney placards and started yelling and screaming, trying to disrupt the people on stage. Security asked them several times politely to keep it down and instead the frat boys just got louder and more aggressive so they were removed from the premises after being given many opportunities to quiet down. They ended up across the street with the anti-abortion protesters with their 4 foot by 6 foot posters that they were showing all the kids in downtown St. Louis.

I talked to a lot of people in line during the two hour wait to get in the gates. A lot of people took the day off. A lot of people swapped shifts to be there. A number of small businesses not only shut down for the day so the whole staff could go but had shirts made up declaring their company's support of the ticket. There were several bands of union members, but much fewer than I'd expected to see. Perhaps a dozen people from CWA, two dozen from AFSCME, and smaller groups from several other locals. I heard from several that union members were having a tough time getting out of work to be there. I also talked to a lady that works a non-union job that she had to call in sick because her boss wouldn't let her take a day off to support Kerry. Twentysomethings were a significant portion of the crowd. A lot of the ones I talked with had never voted before, but were not happy with the hard right leanings of the Bush administration and the GOP in general.

I was surprised at the real diversity of the audience. There were a lot more young people and a lot more minorities than I'd expected to see. Businessmen, Vietnam Vets, blue collar workers, students, senior citizens, soccer moms, alternative lifestylers, and so many more from all walks of life. It was very heartening. Many of the campaign workers were teenagers, the ones I talked to wanted to support Kerry and figured that since they couldn't vote they could at least provide manpower. Volunteers were walking up and down the line handing out bottled water saying "Kerry and Edwards don't want you to dehydrate!" which I found amusing for some reason.

Posted by rev_matt_y at August 6, 2004 1:20 PM