Last night I went to my very first protest. It was exciting. There were so many people! Trump supporters, Clinton supporters, Greens, and, of course, the Gary Johnson crew. Libertarians from as far away as Florida came together to help draw attention to a debate system that is rigged in favor of the two major parties. Despite our differences, we Libertarians managed to get along quite well with everyone- even the “March for $15” people who were taking up the whole gosh-darned street. I wanted to share some of my observations and thoughts with you.
Admittedly there weren’t very many Gary Johnson people there, but there were fewer Greens, and our side seemed the most energized. As the night wore on, the ratio of Libertarians to everyone else increased dramatically, and eventually ended with a friend of mine in prime position to hold up “Johnson/Weld” signs behind Chris Matthews on MSNBC. Despite our lack of manpower, our demonstrations was organized, clean, respectful, we didn’t litter (I’m looking at you Green party), and our slogans were choice. My favorite of the night was, “Vote Johnson. The most consistent anti-sexual assault candidate”.
I got to hear Cisse Spragins, libertarian candidate for Missouri governor, give a speech on the state of her campaign and on libertarian identity and values. She was tremendous. The applause line of the night was when she observed that our Republic must be in a bad state if the party that advocates non-violence and voluntary interaction is labeled “fringe” or “crazy”. She had a good point. But Dr. Spragins’s speech was confined to the “free speech area”, a section of the softball fields fenced off and far away from Brookings Hall where the debate took place. Metal detectors, dogs, and 20 or so police made sure the Libertarians didn’t do anything crazy like reduce taxes or suspend unconstitutional regulations. “The whole damn country is a free speech zone” I reminded them, but the police were as helpless as I to change the situation.
What struck me most was the police presence. The entire campus was closed to anyone without a student or faculty ID and VIPs. Hundreds of police officers from various jurisdictions blocked off residential streets (for miles in some cases) while the candidates were present. Most were cordial and helpful with directions, but some were obviously there getting their rocks off on authority. They were more interested in making sure we didn’t try to get on campus than they were with the heaps of trash left by Hillary and Stein supporters, and those same supporter’s blatant disregard for private property.
I have to admit, I wish I had become more politically active much younger. I felt a real rush and sense of patriotic duty last night at Wash U, and I think, had I felt that earlier in my life, I would have made very different choices. A deep sense of camaraderie kept me warm in that chilly air, and I’m very much looking forward to the next time.