The morning protest was by the tea-baggers on the far right side of the spectrum. Most of the folks on this side are very very angry and hostile at the Obama administration in particular, and at state leaders here who want to raise taxes to dig out of the budget hole. They are cheered on by talk-radio bloviators and tend to worship the water Sarah Palin allegedly walks on. They all look like creatures from one of my favorite web sites, peopleofwalmart.com They took over the front steps with placards and posters of Obama as Hitler and saying "Keep your government hands off my medicare" and the like.
The afternoon brought on the other side -- lots of Union workers and social do-gooders with the day off, here chanting like it was 1960 and the Vietnam War was still on -- "What do we want?" the bullhorn carrier would shout, "Revenue!" the union sheep would shout back. "When do we want it?" from the bullhorn, "NOW!" the sheep bleated back. Funny thing is that all the revenue they want would come out of their pockets in the form of taxes passed on to the things they buy, it's not like it comes from a magic printing press in the basement of the capitol.
Neither side has an articulate argument, both sides respond to their astroturf organizers and bloviators on talk radio or union bosses and left wing "progressive" bloggers. It's what's wrong with politics today. This job used to be about sitting down and crafting good public policy that benefits everyone and improves the lives of all of us. Now days it's zero-sum, winner take all, run to the extreme and try to take over. It seems on one cares about getting the policy right and working it out together these days. To his credit the President is trying -- inviting Republicans to sit down and work -- but recognizing this doesn't benefit them, they aren't coming to the table.
And all these "real people" tend to slow the process down too -- I've often said we'd have a week long session if we just restricted the capitol to the members of the legislature and the professional lobbyists. We'd all adjourn to the Spar tavern in downtown Olympia, smoke some cigars, hash it out, and be done with it. That's what it was like in the good old days. Maybe that's the way it should still be.