On Saturday, Jane and I took a stroll in downtown Portsmouth. It was a chilly day, as is the wont in New England in late February, but a great crowd had gathered in Market Square. Rather, I should say two crowds– one on one side of the street, one on the other. They were arguing out the heart of the Wisconsin debate in a public form, with waving signs and frosted breath.
What was a little strange, though, was that nobody seemed particularly angry or upset. The anti-union side of the street was giving chanting cues to the pro-union side. And among those anti-union signs (e.g., “I <3 Chris Christie” and “If You Don’t Like It, Quit”) were a couple of pro-union sentiments. I began to wonder if the whole thing was a setup by the pro-union side, a mock battle.
I checked my e-mail later and found a MoveOn e-mail talking about the great success of Wisconsin-related rallies nationwide on Saturday. So it hadn’t been a spontaneous gathering by any means, but MoveOn isn’t the type to fake its own opposition either.
I’d like to think that the great convivial spirit of New Hampshire infused the protesters on either side, that that was what caused everyone to keep things civil and even inject a note of jollity into the whole thing. People on the Seacoast in particular, I’ve noticed, tend to be warm and welcoming, combating the stereotype of the coldblooded New Englander. I find this entirely appropriate for a demonstration centering on events in Wisconsin, which from my experience is full of equally warm and reasonable people– the New Hampshirites of the Midwest, if you will.
As far as my thoughts on the debate itself, those will have to wait for another post. Suffice it to say that Scott Walker is a huge douche.