It helps to have a focus

It really helps to have a focus when you are staging a rally. I've been watching the video (off and on) of the anti-war/pro-peace rally on the Ellipse, and, if I didn't know better, I'd be hard pressed to say what exactly the rally is about. If I had to compress things into bullet points, this is what I would have:
  • George W Bush is a war criminal.
  • Israel is bad.
  • George W Bush is responsible for the deaths caused by Hurrican Katrina.
  • George W Bush is a war criminal.
  • Palestinians just want peace, plus the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
  • George W Bush should be impeached, because he is a war criminal.
  • Iraq is an illegal and immoral quagmire.
  • George W Bush is a war criminal.
  • PNAC and an pro-Israel cabal are responsible for the war in Iraq.
See, not much focus, other than GWB=Antichrist. He's not running for anything - it's not as though you can defeat him personally next time at the voting booth. Likewise, if you are marching for an end to the war in Iraq, don't diffuse the message with all sorts of ancillary things, like Hurricane Katrina, Palestine, Haiti, racial equality, PNAC conspiracies, etc.

(I thought about making a drinking game, but quickly realized that I do not have enough alcohol in the house to take a drink every time I heard Haiti, Palestine, PNAC, or war criminal.)

If you want to protest, that's kewl. That's better than kewl, that's great - it shows that you actively care about the directions in which this country is moving (and the same applies to the counter-rally scheduled for tomorrow). But, if you want to actually convince people to share your point of view, it's probably not a good idea to blur your focus so much. For all of Nader's call to focus like a laser beam on Congress, I kept hearing a lot of different speaches, with little unifying theme other than a strong dislike for the current president.

If were just a case of people carrying random signs to that effect, I probably wouldn't have even noticed. But this seems more like an invite went to anyone who wanted to make a speech against Bush/US foreign policy/Israel/war/racism/hurricanes/government/PNAC/little globs of cheese/etc. That could be controlled - if you want to keep some semblance of a focus, don't invite speakers that have a history of speaking on topic X when you want to protest topic Y.

For example, if I wanted to do an anti-gun-control/pro-NRA rally, there is no point in trying to get speakers from other conservative causes. While they might share certain viewpoints on the role of govenment, they're probably not going to stay on my topic, which is (hypothetically) that "gun control is a bad thing." If I have too many pro-life/pro-border control/tort reform speakers (as in, more than 0), I run the risk of diluting my core message until it is lost in the noise.


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