Last Friday, Sept. 25, thousands of John Kerry supporters rallied at the University of Pennsylvania?s Hill Field to see the senator speak. I had the privilege of attending this rally with fellow West Chester University students, including members of the WCU College Democrats. Other speakers at the rally besides Kerry included Joe Hoeffel (senatorial candidate), Allyson Schwartz (congressional candidate), Governor Ed Rendell, Philadelphia Mayor John Street and his son, Sharif, the city controller, and more. Right before Kerry spoke, a group of women, mostly mothers and wives of men serving in Iraq, spoke about how they are committed to John Kerry, who they believe will send their sons and husband help in Iraq. John Kerry reiterated his motto, “Help is on the way!” In fact, the spokeswoman for the group of mothers opened by telling the crowd that she is Republican, to which everyone booed. She then said, “But I?m voting for John Kerry!” The crowd went wild.There were also Republicans, including some of our very own WCU College Republicans and other Kerry opposition counter-protesting the rally. Some of my favorite things were two Bush supporters dressed up like flip-flops by using foam and swimming noodles, as well as a cute old man who dared to stand right in line with the opposition and peacefully held up his pro-Kerry sign.
As with most rallies I have attended, there is a certain rally “high” that is felt among the participants: the grand feeling of being together in harmony with hundreds or thousands of other people who have the same goals as you; in this case, getting Kerry into the White House. It?s so empowering to stand with those so much like myself, and gives me such hope for the future.
Surprisingly enough, my favorite part was not hearing Kerry or one of the many other politicians speak. Rather, my favorite part was interacting with the people of Philadelphia on the way to and from the rally.
One man, with tattoo sleeves (which included a confederate flag and swastikas) seemed to be a Kerry supporter, making the point that once China comes into economic fruition, as well as when the baby boomer generation retires, the United States will be hurt by Bush?s current “giveaway” policies, such as tax cuts for the wealthy.
Another experience was a woman who asked me very bluntly when she saw my sign, “Look at this! How can you stand behind this guy?! He?s for partial birth abortion!” To which I countered, “Yes, but only when the woman?s life is in danger!” She then said, “What about homosexual marriage!?” I answered very confidently, “I?m FOR that!” She smiled, said “Good for you, honey,” then got a call on her cell phone and we went our separate ways.
On the subway and bus coming back from the rally, we were greeted by more passers-by who echoed our sentiments about Kerry. Most people did not know that there was a rally going on. One man was extremely excited that students from West Chester University came out together, because he was a class of 1962 graduate. Some people were indeed very friendly, and would strike up conversations about politics with us while on the subway. I was surprised and delighted that most people who spoke to us were in favor of Kerry. Then again, that is probably why they spoke to us.
Interacting with who I think of as “real” people on the street in Philadelphia (they know the real world better than I do) gave me the feeling that, even though there is the possibility that they may be echoing the sentiments of the media, at least people are exposing themselves to some sort of news and information regarding the election. I can only hope that everyone will make informed decisions on Election Day, and that all votes will be counted.