As with communities throughout America, yesterday the citizens of Harrisonburg celebrated the 4th of July. The city’s downtown area was filled with an assortment of vendors and entertainment, not to mention politicians and political activists. Unlike the previous year, the local Democratic Parties did not seem participate in Thursday’s festivities, somewhat surprising given the three statewide races going on this fall.
For many Americans, the Fourth of July is a day filled with cookouts and family gatherings capped off by a night filled with a colorful fireworks display. However, given that the date serves as the commemoration for the birth of the nation, it is also steeped in politics.
On Wednesday afternoon, the city of Harrisonburg, Virginia held its annual parade to celebrate the day. The weather was quite hot and sunny, a marked difference from last year when a virtual monsoon threatened to cancel the affair.
The parade boasted the usual assortment of floats and vehicles: musicians, fire and rescue teams, antique cars, and, of course, political groups. This year, there were four different sets of folks who entered: the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the Tea Party, and Abe Shearer for City Council.
Overall, the candidate who could claim the largest number of visible supporters in the parade had to be Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6). There was a veritable sea of matching blue Goodlatte shirts among the Republicans. Other Republican candidates were promoted as well including: Mitt Romney, George Allen, Mark Obenshain, and the various City Council hopefuls.
The Democratic Party had an impressive showing as well. They waved signs in favor of Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, Andy Schmookler, and two City Council candidates. I spoke with Deb Fitzgerald, one of the Democratic candidates running, to ask if the Democratic Party only fielded two folks for the three seats up in November. I discovered that although Kai Degner is running for re-election, he apparently had no signs printed to be used in the parade.
Running as an independent for City Council, Abe Shearer also made his presence known. Even though some might be tempted to disregard independents, recent elections have shown that they offer beat the two party candidates for this particular office. The outcome for this race will hinge heavily upon the battle between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama at the top of the ticket and the strength of the campaigns of each of the council candidates.
During the trip down Main Street, I walked alongside the Tea Party float handing out copies of the Constitution. In general, the crowd was very receptive and so I ran out of materials a good distance from the end of the route.
Given that the Fourth is now five days passed, you might find it odd that it has taken me so long to write about it here. Well, I’m afraid that I didn’t feel much like writing on the evening of the event. On the drive back to the parking lot, I decided to catch a ride on the Tea Party float. As we turned onto a side street, the mast holding the tea party sign struck a low-hanging branch and came loose. Unfortunately, I happened to be in the path of the heavy wooden board as it fell to the ground. Although it was only a glancing blow, the plank did graze the side of my head and collided with my shoulder. At the time, I was worried about the severity of the injury, and, as a result of the pain, did very little for the rest of that evening. However, I’m pleased to say that several days later, only a yellowish bruise and a bit of residual soreness seem to be the only lingering effects.
I suppose that one could see a bit of irony in the idea of a person who opposes the idea of government-run health insurance and also does not presently have health insurance due to the tremendous cost involved, becoming injured himself and possibly in need of assistance. Nevertheless, if a person does find him or herself in such a state of need, should one demand that the government redress this problem? Although freely given charity is laudable, the idea of a person compelling his or her neighbors to care for his or her needs through either force or coercion seems to completely reject the basic political tenets of liberty and freedom under which this country was supposedly founded.
Anyway, to sum up, except for the surprise accident at the end, I would say that the parade was a rousing success for all of the parties who choose to participate. Speaking specifically of the tea party, I hope that I’ll see a few new faces at our meeting later this month.