May 052004
 
Authors: Bridget Julian Collegian Contributor

When Joe Reese came home to Colorado from Vietnam, he didn’t

feel welcome. Tears fill his eyes as he describes his experience.

He clears his throat and looks into the sky, over the top of the

American flag he waves.

He’s determined to make things different for those now serving

in the armed forces. “I’m not anti-Bush, I’m not anti-Clinton, I’m

just here for our troops,” he says. Along with another Vietnam

veteran, Reese organized a group that meets on the southeast corner

of Mulberry Street and College Avenue in Fort Collins every

Saturday from noon to 1 p.m.

Across College Avenue, a smaller group holds different signs.

They read “Support Peace” or have longer slogans about Bush and

American imperialist interests.

Mike Robeson, an anti-war activist, glances at the passing cars,

then looks defiantly out from under his hat brim.

“They’re ashamed. We shame them and their way of life. It’s our

colonial empire that maintains our lifestyle, and we’re questioning

that. It’s a moral question.” He looks across the street. “They say

they’re supporting the troops. I say, you’re sending troops to be

maimed and killed — you’re supporting them?”

A Country Divided

Polls show that the American public is almost evenly divided in

its support for President Bush, according to the University of

Pennsylvania National Annenberg Election Survey, April 1 to 14.

Local activists reflect the national divide, and call attention to

some of the most contentious issues: the war in Iraq and the

administration’s fiscal priorities. Local experts view the division

as part of larger power struggle between the Democratic and

Republican parties.

While the war in Iraq may not be the only determining factor for

voters, it does seem strongly linked to overall support for the

president and his administration. An ABC News/Washington Post poll

from March 8 shows that the major issues appear to be the war on

terrorism, taxes and job creation, the war in Iraq and same-sex

marriage.

John Straayer, professor of political science at CSU, says that

the increasing polarization of U.S. politics is partly responsible

for the divided electorate.

“Factions within the Democratic and Republican parties have

pulled toward the extremes, with the moderate middle shrinking.

Candidates themselves have found that they can gain advantage by

demonizing the opposition. And so-called educational groups

(including 527 groups, such as MoveOn.org) who are not tied to a

particular candidate, can be more extreme, and go negative – and

they do.”

Professor Bill Chaloupka, who chairs CSU’s political science

department, takes a long-term view of the current political divide.

He explains that, historically, a transfer of power in what is

essentially a two-party system comes about when large voting

coalitions shift and re-group. This process is called

realignment.

“FDR is a perfect example. In the ’30s, he put together rural

white Southerners, Northern urban blacks and organized labor to

create a new coalition where Democrats reigned supreme for nearly

50 years. Republicans started their own realignment with Barry

Goldwater in 1964, and felt that Reagan’s success in the 1980s

proved that realignment had taken place, because many white

Southerners and blue-collar Northern laborers voted

Republican.”

Now, he says, political scientists disagree among themselves

about the success of the Republican realignment. “Either this

alignment is simply taking longer-they usually tend to coalesce and

shift power quickly-or it has failed. The answer depends on who you

talk to.”

Chaloupka, a veteran political campaigner who was active in the

1990s leftist New Party in Missoula, Mont., says that the Sept. 11,

2001 attacks appears to have invigorated realignment aspirations in

the Republican Party.

“People talked about how Bush would have to move toward the

center after the election. But when you have an event like that, a

national tragedy, you gain more legitimacy and support than you

could have otherwise. Bush got that political advantage, and he

knew exactly what he wanted to do with that capital – remove Saddam

Hussein.”

Chaloupka sees local activists mirroring the realignment

struggle, as political parties polarize in an effort to swing the

balance of power decisively. “It underscores my opinion of where

we’re at this spring.”

Local Perceptions

Betsy Markey, chair of the Larimer County Democrats, agrees with

Chaloupka but adds, “I don’t think that just Democrats are unhappy

with the President’s handling of foreign policy and the economy.

We’re getting lots of Republicans and unaffiliated voters calling

and e-mailing our office to volunteer.”

Nancy Hunter, chair of the Larimer County Republicans, did not

respond to e-mail requests for comment.

Jeni Cross, assistant professor of sociology at CSU, agrees with

Markey that lines between voters may not be as distinct as party

affiliations — or street corners — make them appear.

“What you see on the corner is a boiling down of the issues. It

can make things look simpler and more clear-cut than they are.

People on the anti-war side are not necessarily anti-troop, and

some people on the troop side would say it’s great that we can

protest the war, that it’s part of what we’re fighting for.”

The View From the Corner

Harry Campbell, a Vietnam veteran who regularly attends the

Saturday troop support rallies in Fort Collins, might agree with

Cross’s ideas about expressing solidarity. “It’s important to let

the troops know that they have the support of the American people,”

he says. “We’re just showing support for our kids.”

Both Campbell and Joe Reese say that they are regular voters in

national and local elections, but Reese says his participation in

this kind of public demonstration is a first. Normally not “a

demonstration-type person,” he felt particularly motivated by this

issue. “I’m pro-Constitution, not pro-war,” he states, but adds,

“I’m not a pacifist. I say give self-defense a chance.”

Reese does think that the Iraqi people are better off today. “As

far as Saddam Hussein, well, you can’t let a man like that just go

– you know he’s ruthless.”

Asked about recent polls showing the country’s divided support

for President Bush, Campbell chuckles. “I don’t put a lot of

credence in polls. I mean, who are they polling? Normal people in

front of Sears, or other people?” He waves at a honking car. “This

is kind of a poll right here, isn’t it?”

Across the street, Mary Lyons smiles when asked if she’s ever

protested a war before. “I protested Vietnam.” She looks up

earnestly, pushing back her shoulder-length silver hair. “We have

to be responsible citizens.”

People, she says, have supported Bush “because they were lied

to. But people are waking up. There are no weapons of mass

destruction. . . . This is an imperialist move on the part of the

Bush administration.”

Police and City Coordinate with Protesters

At 1 p.m., protesters on both sides of College Avenue roll up

their signs, trade farewells and disappear until next Saturday.

This tidy event seems at odds with the word “protest,” which

typically conjures up images of confusion, hysteria and impending

violence. Capt. Tom McClellan of the Fort Collins Police Services

said that organized protests result from coordination between

citizens and the police.

McClellan said a variety of public assembly permits are

available from the city, each with different criteria and

guidelines. “For example, if you’re going to be in a public space,

where you might obstruct a public thoroughfare such as a sidewalk

or a street, then we need to know about it.”

Depending on the proposed event, McClellan said the applicant’s

plan is reviewed by the fire department and the street department,

as well as the police. If the event looks potentially large or

contentious, the department designs a response plan weeks

beforehand. The police may also meet with the people holding the

event, and ask what they want to get out of it. According to

McClellan, it’s usually “notoriety and media attention, a way to

publicize their issue. We look at how they can meet their needs

while we get what we want, a law-abiding event.”

His words recall an April 4 demonstration in Fort Collins, where

the police successfully negotiated with anti-war protesters who

were blocking Prospect Road, thereby avoiding a potentially violent

conflict.

Fort Collins Council member Eric Hamrick and Mayor Ray Martinez

see the value of local political expression. Hamrick said: “The

city can play a role by not infringing on citizens’ rights to free

speech. We need to keep the right to assemble as simple as possible

for residents.”

“There is a Constitutional right to assemble-and I’d rather

people express opinions that way,” Mayor Martinez said. “I believe

that when you pass ordinances, or laws, you should ask a

two-pronged question: does it provide rights and freedoms? Or does

it lead to more government control, more dictatorship? The key is

to find the balance, because you can always question whose rights

and freedoms are being enlarged or protected.”

1

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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May 052004
 
Authors: Bridget Julian

When Joe Reese came home to Colorado from Vietnam, he didn’t

feel welcome. Tears fill his eyes as he describes his experience.

He clears his throat and looks into the sky, over the top of the

American flag he waves.

He’s determined to make things different for those now serving

in the armed forces. “I’m not anti-Bush, I’m not anti-Clinton, I’m

just here for our troops,” he says. Along with another Vietnam

veteran, Reese organized a group that meets on the southeast corner

of Mulberry Street and College Avenue in Fort Collins every

Saturday from noon to 1 p.m.

Across College Avenue, a smaller group holds different signs.

They read “Support Peace” or have longer slogans about Bush and

American imperialist interests.

Mike Robeson, an anti-war activist, glances at the passing cars,

then looks defiantly out from under his hat brim.

“They’re ashamed. We shame them and their way of life. It’s our

colonial empire that maintains our lifestyle, and we’re questioning

that. It’s a moral question.” He looks across the street. “They say

they’re supporting the troops. I say, you’re sending troops to be

maimed and killed — you’re supporting them?”

A Country Divided

Polls show that the American public is almost evenly divided in

its support for President Bush, according to the University of

Pennsylvania National Annenberg Election Survey, April 1 to 14.

Local activists reflect the national divide, and call attention to

some of the most contentious issues: the war in Iraq and the

administration’s fiscal priorities. Local experts view the division

as part of larger power struggle between the Democratic and

Republican parties.

While the war in Iraq may not be the only determining factor for

voters, it does seem strongly linked to overall support for the

president and his administration. An ABC News/Washington Post poll

from March 8 shows that the major issues appear to be the war on

terrorism, taxes and job creation, the war in Iraq and same-sex

marriage.

John Straayer, professor of political science at CSU, says that

the increasing polarization of U.S. politics is partly responsible

for the divided electorate.

“Factions within the Democratic and Republican parties have

pulled toward the extremes, with the moderate middle shrinking.

Candidates themselves have found that they can gain advantage by

demonizing the opposition. And so-called educational groups

(including 527 groups, such as MoveOn.org) who are not tied to a

particular candidate, can be more extreme, and go negative – and

they do.”

Professor Bill Chaloupka, who chairs CSU’s political science

department, takes a long-term view of the current political divide.

He explains that, historically, a transfer of power in what is

essentially a two-party system comes about when large voting

coalitions shift and re-group. This process is called

realignment.

“FDR is a perfect example. In the ’30s, he put together rural

white Southerners, Northern urban blacks and organized labor to

create a new coalition where Democrats reigned supreme for nearly

50 years. Republicans started their own realignment with Barry

Goldwater in 1964, and felt that Reagan’s success in the 1980s

proved that realignment had taken place, because many white

Southerners and blue-collar Northern laborers voted

Republican.”

Now, he says, political scientists disagree among themselves

about the success of the Republican realignment. “Either this

alignment is simply taking longer-they usually tend to coalesce and

shift power quickly-or it has failed. The answer depends on who you

talk to.”

Chaloupka, a veteran political campaigner who was active in the

1990s leftist New Party in Missoula, Mont., says that the Sept. 11,

2001 attacks appears to have invigorated realignment aspirations in

the Republican Party.

“People talked about how Bush would have to move toward the

center after the election. But when you have an event like that, a

national tragedy, you gain more legitimacy and support than you

could have otherwise. Bush got that political advantage, and he

knew exactly what he wanted to do with that capital – remove Saddam

Hussein.”

Chaloupka sees local activists mirroring the realignment

struggle, as political parties polarize in an effort to swing the

balance of power decisively. “It underscores my opinion of where

we’re at this spring.”

Local Perceptions

Betsy Markey, chair of the Larimer County Democrats, agrees with

Chaloupka but adds, “I don’t think that just Democrats are unhappy

with the President’s handling of foreign policy and the economy.

We’re getting lots of Republicans and unaffiliated voters calling

and e-mailing our office to volunteer.”

Nancy Hunter, chair of the Larimer County Republicans, did not

respond to e-mail requests for comment.

Jeni Cross, assistant professor of sociology at CSU, agrees with

Markey that lines between voters may not be as distinct as party

affiliations — or street corners — make them appear.

“What you see on the corner is a boiling down of the issues. It

can make things look simpler and more clear-cut than they are.

People on the anti-war side are not necessarily anti-troop, and

some people on the troop side would say it’s great that we can

protest the war, that it’s part of what we’re fighting for.”

The View From the Corner

Harry Campbell, a Vietnam veteran who regularly attends the

Saturday troop support rallies in Fort Collins, might agree with

Cross’s ideas about expressing solidarity. “It’s important to let

the troops know that they have the support of the American people,”

he says. “We’re just showing support for our kids.”

Both Campbell and Joe Reese say that they are regular voters in

national and local elections, but Reese says his participation in

this kind of public demonstration is a first. Normally not “a

demonstration-type person,” he felt particularly motivated by this

issue. “I’m pro-Constitution, not pro-war,” he states, but adds,

“I’m not a pacifist. I say give self-defense a chance.”

Reese does think that the Iraqi people are better off today. “As

far as Saddam Hussein, well, you can’t let a man like that just go

– you know he’s ruthless.”

Asked about recent polls showing the country’s divided support

for President Bush, Campbell chuckles. “I don’t put a lot of

credence in polls. I mean, who are they polling? Normal people in

front of Sears, or other people?” He waves at a honking car. “This

is kind of a poll right here, isn’t it?”

Across the street, Mary Lyons smiles when asked if she’s ever

protested a war before. “I protested Vietnam.” She looks up

earnestly, pushing back her shoulder-length silver hair. “We have

to be responsible citizens.”

People, she says, have supported Bush “because they were lied

to. But people are waking up. There are no weapons of mass

destruction. . . . This is an imperialist move on the part of the

Bush administration.”

Police and City Coordinate with Protesters

At 1 p.m., protesters on both sides of College Avenue roll up

their signs, trade farewells and disappear until next Saturday.

This tidy event seems at odds with the word “protest,” which

typically conjures up images of confusion, hysteria and impending

violence. Capt. Tom McClellan of the Fort Collins Police Services

said that organized protests result from coordination between

citizens and the police.

McClellan said a variety of public assembly permits are

available from the city, each with different criteria and

guidelines. “For example, if you’re going to be in a public space,

where you might obstruct a public thoroughfare such as a sidewalk

or a street, then we need to know about it.”

Depending on the proposed event, McClellan said the applicant’s

plan is reviewed by the fire department and the street department,

as well as the police. If the event looks potentially large or

contentious, the department designs a response plan weeks

beforehand. The police may also meet with the people holding the

event, and ask what they want to get out of it. According to

McClellan, it’s usually “notoriety and media attention, a way to

publicize their issue. We look at how they can meet their needs

while we get what we want, a law-abiding event.”

His words recall an April 4 demonstration in Fort Collins, where

the police successfully negotiated with anti-war protesters who

were blocking Prospect Road, thereby avoiding a potentially violent

conflict.

Fort Collins Council member Eric Hamrick and Mayor Ray Martinez

see the value of local political expression. Hamrick said: “The

city can play a role by not infringing on citizens’ rights to free

speech. We need to keep the right to assemble as simple as possible

for residents.”

“There is a Constitutional right to assemble-and I’d rather

people express opinions that way,” Mayor Martinez said. “I believe

that when you pass ordinances, or laws, you should ask a

two-pronged question: does it provide rights and freedoms? Or does

it lead to more government control, more dictatorship? The key is

to find the balance, because you can always question whose rights

and freedoms are being enlarged or protected.”

 Posted by at 5:00 pm