Archive website
You are viewing the archive website of The Lewisville Texan Journal. This site only has our content from prior to May 10, 2016.
Return to our current website

My Friday Afternoon on Fox

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2009/9/7 8:20:00 (2527 reads)

Standing on the Bridge, Standing Up for Change

Lewisville, TX

This past Friday, my fellow local Democrats and other supporters of health care insurance reform held a rally at the Lewisville office of Congressman Michael Burgess. Although I supported that effort and participated in the preparation and publicity, I only spent a few minutes there, snapping a few pictures and waving to my fellow patriots.

Early in the week, we had decided that although the main body of our rally would be at the office of Michael Burgess, he wasn’t really the audience for our support of health insurance reform. Burgess may or may not have been in the office – in fact, he may have been out doing another joint town hall meeting with Rep. Michelle Bachman of Minnesota. We have tried to express our opinions to him and our two Senators, but we know that regardless of what they all may say about wanting some type of health insurance reform, their actions and their votes speak louder than their words.

For this reason, we wanted to share our message with regular people, and engage them with the truth. We know from polling data that a majority of Americans support reform, but we also know anecdotally that the belligerent right has screamed the loudest, and raised the most dire predictions of doom.

So what we did was to create our own hand-made banner, not with a witty or sarcastic bumper-sticker slogan, but designed to drive home the three main principles of what President Obama is looking for in his plan for health insurance reform:

Choice: Americans need to retain their choice of physicians and other health care providers, as well as their insurance provider.

Affordability: We must get health care costs and health care inflation under control. We’re spending too much of our GDP on health care, and still not getting it.

Access: Too many Americans are locked out of insurance due to pre-existing conditions or the inability to pay.

We also wanted to make sure that we provided people with a resource where they could go and see the facts, straight from the White House.

So, we settled on this design:

We found 10 yards of sturdy white material and spent a couple of evenings sitting on the floor, coloring with permanent markers:

I suppose if we had the astro-turf sponsorship of the big insurance lobby, we might have just faxed an order in to the print shop and had one delivered. But aside from the money issues, there’s just something more genuine about working on something by hand using all-volunteer labor. I got lots of help on this from Julie, Ginny, Christianna, and Ike. And of course, my whole family, and Julie’s family had to deal with the marker fumes in the house. On the night before the rally, the banner had to spend the night in the garage airing out.

I had posted a blog post on the rally on Thursday morning, and by Thursday afternoon, the word had gotten around to the tea-partiers, birthers, secessionists, and other opponents of health insurance reform, who led by Winston Edmondson, had formed a hasty protest to counter our rally.

We sent a brief heads-up email to the Lewisville Police Department on Thursday, just to let them know that we would be having this rally, and that we would have something at an “alternate location” on I-35. I was intentionally a bit vague on this last point, because we did not intend to publicize where we would be displaying our banner. But we did want to provide our contact information to the police and make sure they had adequate officers available for a low-key security presence, as well as to arm them with information that they could use to respond to the inevitable public inquiries.

I spent some time at the sewing machine Thursday night hemming the two ends and then the kids and I took the banner outside to see if we could unfurl it and manage to hold onto it in some wind. It turns out that a 30 foot banner gets heavy when loaded by wind.

At some point on Thursday night, sadly, a woman was killed by a drunk driver on I-35 right at the Fox Avenue bridge, below where we had planned to display our banner within the enclosed pedestrian walkway.

Friday was a busy day, trying to get stuff done at work, and still get everything prepared for the rally. We questioned whether going through with our plans would in any way be disrespectful of the grave situation there on the previous night, and decided that it would not.

When my boys got home from school, I was ready to take this banner out to the Fox Avenue bridge, over I-35 in Lewisville. I stopped by the rally, already under way at Burgess’ office to drop something off and take a bit of video.

We headed up to Fox Avenue, parked the car, and lugged the banner, a cooler full of water, the camera bag, and some emergency banner repair gear just-in-case. The boys and I were the first ones there, so we didn’t attempt to hold up the banner, but just unrolled it and laid it out on the sidewalk in the correct orientation.

Mark was the next to show up, and when he got there, we stretched out the banner, and flattened it out against the chain link of the pedestrian cage that makes the Fox Avenue bridge the ideal place for this type of action.

A bit later, we were joined by Tim and Beverly, and we pretty much took turns wrestling with this huge banner that pretty much wanted to sag or blow off. The boys helped a little, until they bored of it, then took off their shoes and sat on the side to watch the traffic whiz by down below.

We were visited briefly by a sergeant from the Lewisville Police Department, who stopped by to check on us. It was a very cordial conversation, and his only direction was to make sure we were being safe. Of course, he was concerned about the impact on traffic below, but this stretch is normally pretty busy during these hours. Part of the reason we made the banner so big is that we wanted it to have about the same impact as a billboard, being easy to read and absorb while still keeping eyes on the road.

When Tim and Bev had to go, Joe and Dan showed up as reinforcements. We kept the banner up until pretty much precisely at 6 PM, when we had scheduled to end the rally. And it was a good thing we didn’t have to hold that heavy monster up much longer, because the wind was picking up, and my hands had begun to cramp. To be honest, I was probably pretty smelly.

Observations from the Bridge
Our banner, though decidedly pro-reform, was not an in-your-face type of attack on anyone or anything, but rather a positive statement on what we were looking for. So, the vast majority of the responses we could see from drivers below were positive and cordial. At the very least, the occasional thumbs down or slightly more dangerous two thumbs down were respectable dissent. And now and then, a certain demographic of driver – generally white males over 55 – would display a certain one-fingered sign of contempt, which led my boys to ask why these people hate us so much, and whether I was sure we weren’t somehow being bad by doing what we were doing. It’s a hard thing to explain to a kid, why grown adults will be so disrespectful, and why we still just smile and wave – and love them anyway. Even you, Mr. DCTA bus driver.

But mostly, the responses were positive. You could see people pointing up at the sign and sometimes mouthing the words. A smile would form, and they would wave, or flash us a “V” for victory sign, or just give a great big thumbs up, or make applause that only they could hear, but we could see. Truck drivers would blast their air horns in solidarity, and we would wave back. If one person honked, sometimes three or four would honk. Occasionally, you would hear someone cheer from their car window, and though it was unintelligible to us at their speeds, we could tell by the tone whether they supported us or not.

At the very least though, this wasn’t about a roadside referendum; this was about making people think. I hope that some of these people went home and looked up the White House Reality Check web page, or had a meaningful conversation with a passenger, or a family member when they got home.

The plan had been to meet at a local restaurant after the rally, to have a drink and some dinner, and share our impressions. I was in the car, close to the restaurant when I received a cell-phone call from the Lewisville PD sergeant, who was bending over backward to be polite and courteous, but pointed out the traffic backup in front of Burgess’ office at Corporate and I-35, and asked whether we intended to go much further past 6 PM. I told him that 6 PM was the scheduled end time, and that I wasn’t at the rally, but that I would call Julie and see what the situation was. I drove by with the kids, letting Seth snap a picture or two, and made the block again before heading to the restaurant. Julie walked down through the line and thanked the folks who showed up, reminding them we had an appointment at the restaurant with a cold beverage. Once I got to the restaurant, I called the sergeant back to check in, and thank the officers for their cool low-key presence there. (I still intend to write a letter to the Chief about that)

We took over a section of the restaurant, and had a nice family gathering of maybe 30 people – I didn’t count. The kids all sat together – maybe commiserating about how it must suck to have activist parents, but I did make sure they got to order what they wanted, and that the waitress took good care of them. We had great food, drinks, and conversation, and all went home tired but energized.

Some of the group went North across the lake to Denton on Saturday to do it all over again in front of Denton Regional Medical Center, a rally which drew no counter-protesters. Although I couldn’t make it to the Denton rally, I did send the banner. Toni got some great pictures of that rally and posted them here.
(Join me on Facebook to see more pics)

When I first endorsed Barack Obama back during the primaries last year, I said that one of my main reasons for doing so was that his movement was not about Obama, but rather about what WE the people can accomplish when we take back control and work together for change. Though we celebrated his victory as our own, I must admit that I hoped that at least for awhile I could take some time off from politics and let the President and the Congress do what they do.

But as you know, it takes more than just elections to make things happen. It takes pressure from citizens, and an informed electorate. These are hearts and minds that we have to win over, or at least convince once again that we are sincere in our own beliefs and in our intent to perfect America.

So, on Labor Day, we take a well-deserved rest. But on Tuesday, as Congress goes back into session, we must put on these well-worn walking shoes and join the fight for progress once again.

- Rating: 0.00 (0 votes) - {$lang_ratethisnews}

Other articles
2016/5/11 3:57:48 - New website
2016/5/10 2:00:00 - Vista Ridge Mall in receivership, but open for business
2016/5/8 6:50:00 - Help wanted: Journalist
2016/5/8 4:10:00 - Three-year-old struck by boat propeller is son of Lewisville firefighter
2016/5/7 23:40:00 - May 7 Lewisville and LISD Election Results.

The Lewisville Texan Journal archives are a service of Lewisville Public Media Corp.
Login to Comment
Remember me
Lost your password?
Create New Account