Santa Monica Mirror
August 23-29, 2000
Lead editorial --
Reflections & Observations
The Future Is Here
The real story in Los Angeles last week was not what happened at the Democratic Convention in Staples Center, but what happened in the streets of downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, which went largely unreported.
Local TV stations and the networks ran endless quick clips of people marching, police confronting marchers and police and marchers scuffling, and dutifully assigned negative adjectives (i.e.. "rowdy") to the marchers, but they did not bother to report -- even superficially -- what the marchers wanted, why they had taken to the streets or who they were. It was, to the talking heads, just another opportunity to run some sensational footage -- freeway chases, car crashes, drivebys, burning buildings and...now, live at five, rowdies in the streets.
In the same way, the delegates to the Convention (like the delegates to the Republican Convention in Philadelphia) paid no attention to the marchers -- except to note that their presence occasionally made coming to and leaving Staples Center difficult.
Clearly, this country's current corps of alleged political leaders and media barons have forgot that every change for the good in America has begun in the streets -- from the American Revolution onward. Every change. The Civil War, the rise of unions, women's suffrage, civil rights, the anti-Vietnam War movement, women's liberation, abortion rights, gay rights were all born in the streets, not in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms, Congressional committees, corporate boardrooms or party conventions.
The fact that the Democratic and Republican mucky-mucks ignored the people in the streets of Philadelphia and Los Angeles is depressing, but predictable, for they are, after all, the champions of the status quo, things as they are, not things as they could and/or should be.
And what did all those people want anyway? Isn't America richer and more powerful than it has ever been? Aren't we better off than we have ever been? Yes. And yes. So what do they want?
The marchers' causes and concerns were varied and specific, but, ultimately, they want what people have always wanted -- freedom, justice, equality. They want a government that is of, by and for the people, not of, by and for big business. In other words, they want America to live up to its promise by keeping the promises its founding fathers made.
To dismiss the marchers' demands as naive, simplistic, vague or unrealistic is to miss the point. While the Democrats in Los Angeles, like the Republicans in Philadelphia, were content to run in place, the people in the streets of L.A. marched headlong into the future.
And the future is now.