Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Protest For/Against Everything

I see WMAY is sponsoring a rally-protest-gathering at the Illinois State Capitol tomorrow. The message on their website reads:
Fed up with a government that is non-responsive, wasteful, or corrupt? Fed up with a process that seems to shut you out? It's time to stand up and be counted. Join 970 WMAY this Wednesday at 2nd & Capitol, at the feet of Abraham Lincoln in front of the Statehouse. We will gather together for "THE RALLY FOR COMMON SENSE". We've invited lawmakers to come and show that they understand your frustration, but to really send the message, we need you. If you are tired of state jobs leaving Springfield, if you're tired of pay-to-play, if you've been using the word IMPEACH a lot more often - join us Wednesday in the noon hour, or listen live here on 970 WMAY, the News and Talk of Springfield.
I’m always a little wary of political events, and that’s what this is of course, sponsored by media outlets that on the one hand bring us the news but also thrive on talking about controversy on their talk shows. Create event, cover it in your news, talk about it on your talk shows, sell advertising. But whatever. In general, I think political protest is great and should be encouraged so more power to them.

However, this thing strikes me as a little unfocused and scattershot in it aims. It could just as easily be the “Sick of it All” rally. I mean, is this to encourage the lawmakers to impeach Gov. Blagojevich? I’m guessing a lot of people planning to attend have that in mind. (You can even download and print from the WMAY website a Blago mask to wear for whatever reason.) Others are, I assume, coming to protest the real and theoretical move of state jobs from Springfield, which, like I said before, is a purely local issue and not many lawmakers representing other districts are all that worried about, especially if their district stand s to benefit. Then there are the usual budget problems (no one wants to raise taxes or cut spending), lawmakers pay raises, and assorted other political hackery that goes on all the time. Sure, plenty to protest, but all at once? I’m not sure how seriously that’s going to be taken.

And how will the lawmakers and governor view this. Well, the governor won’t be around and has demonstrated he really doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Lawmakers? Well they are going to view this as largely a gathering of the indigenous people and fear not any repercussions at the ballot box. And again, let’s be honest, this is a local event. We’ve got some righteous grievances, many with statewide implications, but this isn’t a protest involving the rest of the state and I think its impact is going to be minimal to non-existent because of that.

I think Springfield, as a community, has always had a distorted view of both ownership and influence on state government. And that’s for obvious reasons: We man the jobs, can see the Capitol from many places in town and generally feel the presence of state government to a much greater degree than other Illinois communities. And, thanks in part to our local media like WMAY, I think the community has had a slightly (and only slightly) disproportional effect on lawmakers and the governing institutions. Some of that is changing, I think, due to technology (internet, cell phones) that allows for better communication with the media in other parts of the state. Maybe I’ll flesh that notion out a bit more in another post.

12 comments:

nancy said...

Dave

I agree completely. I thought the scope of the demonstration was a bit wide-reaching. However, any legislator that shows up, whether he/she really cares or not, is going to get a lot of really sweet press afterward. It's all good though. The collegiate in me would love to go down there and check it out.

blevins said...

dave, spot on post as usual.
what is the point of protesting Blago, it is not going to do anything but piss little Tito off and find new and more ingenius ways to screw the people of Springfield.

eyeroll said...

Right on! WMAY should know there's nothing in the constitution that allows the media to critisize the gov... oh wait...

Dave said...

Eyeroll,

You know perfectly well that’s not even remotely close to what I said. Now unroll your eye.

eyeroll said...

Dave,

You said you are wary of political events sponsored by media. With whom are you "comfortable?"

Dave said...

Pretty much anyone who isn’t charged with monitoring and reporting on the government.

Mad Conservative said...

I went to this rally, and frankly the mocking of it by Capitol Fax and its readers is ridicious. But the irony is, the lawmakers except for four dodged this but will all show up at a softball game this afternoon...which really shows what their priorities are with a state budget deadline fast approaching.

eyeroll said...

oh, thanks. I wanted to be sure I understood what the limitations are on the constitution. 'preciate it.

Dave said...

Eyeroll, I was expressing my preference not a constitutional change. Big difference, but you already knew that.

Of course it’s perfectly legal. I never said it wasn’t nor do I propose restrictions. Keep playing dumb if you like.
You have to admit this is unusual.

Mainstream media outlets aren’t in the habit of sponsoring political events. The Chicago Tribune doesn’t hold fundraisers for Dick Durbin and the ABC radio network doesn’t sponsor WTO sit-ins. They make every attempt to cover the news not create it.

Dave said...

Another analogy: It’s not unconstitutional for a 65 year-old man to date my 18 year-old daughter but I’m still not comfortable with it.

Anonymous said...

To "Mad Conservative" It couldn't have been said better. The only time we see these people is during campaign season and then they go back to doing nothing in the statehouse. RE-ELECT NO INCUMBENTS!!!

eyeroll said...

Those outlets do have commentators and editorial writers who do attend and/or organize events. To suggest that any talk radio station is analogous to "news" is comical and it would seem that you might be the one playing dumb.

It would be like thinking a blogger is somehow similar to the New York Times. Don't take it all so seriously and get that big beer out of your face.

BTW, is your daughter seeing anybody right now?