Barger for US Senate

Official campaign website of Al Barger, 2004 Indiana Libertarian Party candidate for US Senate

"It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows that the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?" - James Madison, Federalist #62

Friday, October 22, 2004

Statehouse I-69 "Boondoggle" protest rally, October 22

Perhaps the most fun one event I've been at in this campaign season was the rally on the Statehouse steps in Indianapolis on Friday, 10-27. I was on a mission to shave the animals, but we'll get back to that.

This rally was in protest against the new-terrain I-69 proposal that's been on the boards for some years now. Kenn Gividen, our Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, has made opposition to this plan to build an extension of the interstate from Indianapolis to Evansville a centerpiece of his campaign.

I freely admit that this is not the top issue on my plate. I haven't studied this issue that close. I was there in large part to support Kenn, who has run perhaps the finest campaign I've ever seen from any Libertarian.

I would tend to be opposed to it though just on general principles. For starters, it's a huge lot of money being spent, a "boondoggle" as Kenn calls it. That's a lot of money being taken away from taking care of all the other roads in the state.

Personally, my biggest beef with this would be the eminent domain issues. I generally think that it is totally wrong for the government to seize people's property by eminent domain. Governments across the country have become FAR too willing to invoke eminent domain.

The most compelling sign I saw invoked Amish farms that would be taken and paved over for this project. There aren't very many real family farms left. At this point, religious communities such as the Amish probably represent a pretty good percentage of them. We definitely shouldn't be forcibly uprooting them from their homes and land unless it is absolutely necessary. It's not.

Anyway, we had a couple of dozen Libertarian Party people there, holding up Gividen for Governor signs. Not too bad.

Also, there's a specific organization behind this anti-interstate activity called CARR, Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads.

However, it turns out our infantry in this scene was a bunch of danged dirty hippies from Bloomington. They came out opposed more on the count of environmental issues, destroying wildlife habitats and such.

For one thing, there was an outfit there called the Bloomington Circus Collective. I think they were responsible for the bongo drums and face paint and giant puppets. For one thing, they sure helped to make the event colorful and entertaining. Looking for identifying hippie marks, such as dredlocks and pony tails and bongo drums and such, I'd estimate that there were a hundred odd people from different groups that might be likely grouped as the Bloomington hippy crowd.

They also managed to bring some delightful pre-voting age kids with them who really gave me great personal delight. I was standing along the curb with my Gividen sign with a couple of very charming teenage girls. Naturally, I started ranting about danged dirty hippies for their benefit.

One of the girls, probably 15 and wearing beaded hair, immediately picked up that I was doing a little Cartman routine. We started bonding over favorite episodes of South Park. I didn't quite get her name, but she gave her buddy Lilli her camera phone to get our picture. She promised to email me my pictures with her and Lilli.

Anyway, a couple of tv news crews were on the scene. If I were less philosophically inclined, I might have been annoyed that they weren't interested in the candidate for US Senate out protesting. They were much more interested in my new friends, and their friends with the face paint and drums. In fairness though, those girls weren't quite old enough to vote, but they're far cuter than me.

Also, we're standing along the road, hollering at the cars passing by. I'm not particularly expecting them to hear anything I might say, so I'm really just making noises to attract their attention to look at my sign.

In short, it didn't much matter what I said, which is asking for trouble. Following the South Park theme, I found myself literally yelling "rabble, rabble-rabble." I know that's not right, but I really couldn't help myself. I'm not sure if this made me the rabble rouser, or if I was actually the rabble being roused. I think that's one of those "chicken or the egg" deals.

This generated an amusing moment as one of the hippies tried to gently suggest that hollering "rabble-rabble" in the middle of our protest rally might not really be cool. I'm standing there in the suit and tie, hearing from the hippy about trying to act normal so as not to put off average voters. He really was trying to be nice, and he did at least halfway have a reasonable point. Still.

All this seemed funny to me. In my own past, I'd probably have mostly been more likely taken for a hippy than any kind of Chamber of Commerce guy. Still, I've always much preferred Merle Haggard to the Grateful Dead. On the other hand, the Dead did cover a Merle Haggard song on their first album.

Anyway, I eventually worked my way down the crowd, handing out my own cards. Hey, I'm there supporting their cause, and hippies get to vote like anyone else.

This left me down toward the north end of the lineup on the curb, meeting my very bestest new friend at this event. Miss Tori is 10 years old, and full of the most charming earnest childish enthusiasm for the environmental issues that brought her hippy daddy and her out. Besides the money and the eminent domain, this I-69 project would tear up and pave over a lot of nice, clean land. It would certainly tear up a lot of natural wildlife habitat.

Nonetheless, I was shocked and appalled at what she was yelling at the passing traffic. Child, what's wrong with you? Why in the world would you want to "shave the animals?"

Sure, it's a perfect sunny 70 degree day now. A month from now, though, it's really going to be cold out here, and the animals are definitely going to need their fur. What in the world are you thinking?

No, Tori explained. SAVE, save the animals.

Ah, I see. That's alright then. So then, naturally I was standing there with my buddy hollering "Save the animals!" This was probably better than hollering "rabble, rabble." Plus, I was making friends with Tori.

Of course, after about five minutes I forgot her explanation, so I'm standing there with my Gividen sign hollering "SHAVE THE ANIMALS" at the passing buses. Tori then had to carefully correct me. "SAVE the animals, not shave." Oh, right.

I had a good hour of joy tormenting Tori about shaving the animals. I'd go along saving them for a few minutes, waiting for her to drop her guard. Then I'm back trying to shave the animals. Good times.

Eventually, the hippies all got done talking up on the steps, and handed it off to Kenn. Now, besides the fact that Kenn's one of my favorite cool guys, he's also obviously a much better public speaker than any of the rambling hippy speak, and also mercifully shorter.

Kenn got to his main point within a minute or so, using his background as a Baptist minister to set up a simple call and response to make and amplify the point. The core of his maybe six or eight minutes was a series of (admittedly loaded) questions, the answer to all of which was "BOONDOGGLE!"

Finishing up with that speechifying, the hippies marched off down the block to the governor's office. The Libertarians followed the cue of our state chair, Mark Rutherford who correctly suggested that it probably would behoove us to hang back. It might not have been perceived as entirely right for Kenn and supporters bearing his signs to march into the office of the governor he's running against.

My best estimate is that we were there for three hours. By way then of finishing up, I was privileged (along with Rutherford and several others) to lunch with Kenn and the reporter from his local Columbus paper at an Indian restaraunt. Besides anything else, it's a pleasure watching Kenn work. He's good.

All in all, then, it was a pitch perfect day to get out and shave the animals.

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