WASHINGTON (AP) - Thousands of people flocked to the Lincoln Memorial for a rally Saturday organized by labor and civil rights groups, hoping to show support for the Democratic agenda in the face of expected GOP election gains next month.
More than 400 organizations, including faith, environmental and gay rights groups, sponsored the "One Nation Working Together" demonstration on the same end of the National Mall where a month ago tea party activists met to hear conservative commentator Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.
"We're here to show the rest of the country that there are people who support the progressive agenda," said Ken Bork, who came from Camas, Wash. But he acknowledged that Republicans are enjoying an advantage heading toward the Nov. 2 election that will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress.
"There may be an enthusiasm gap, but we're not going to know until we have an election," Bork said. "A lot of the noise from the extreme right-wing stuff, it's been well orchestrated by big money. But it's not as bad as they're making it out."
There were people with union T-shirts and others participants who carried banners advocating expanding Medicare for all Americans. While the Beck rally stretched well down the National Mall, Saturday's event was shaping up to be far smaller, with sparse groups lingering around the reflecting pool and other monuments.
|(AP) Activists gather at the Lincoln Memorial to participate in the "One Nation Working Together" rally...|
Some people described the event as a counter-protest to the Beck rally. Many mentioned the perceived racism they see among the tea party-style activists, even though no one who spoke at the Beck rally neared anything approaching criticism of President Barack Obama or his race.
"He can't get anything done. It's just wrong," said Shelley Casala, who came from Fort Wayne, Ind.
She said Democrats need to look at the rally, take heart and govern from a liberal platform. "Democrats are too afraid of losing their job," she said. "We will have their back if they have ours."
With a month of campaigning to go and voter unhappiness high, the Democratic-leaning groups sponsoring the One Nation rally hoped the four-hour program of speeches and entertainment would unify activists who are crucial if Democrats are to keep power on Capitol Hill.
Republicans are hoping to ride voter anger to victories in the November congressional elections and regain control of the House and possibly the Senate.
|(AP) Workers prepare the stage as activists gather at the Lincoln Memorial in the nation's capital to...|
Organizers insisted the rally wasn't partisan and said the message was about job creation, quality education and justice. However, the largest of the organizers, such as the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, tend to back Democratic candidates.
A month ago, Beck and former Alaska Gov. Palin gathered near the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech to urge a vast crowd to embrace what they consider traditional values. Though also billed as nonpolitical, the rally was widely viewed as a protest against the policies of President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.
One Nation organizers said that they began planning their event before learning about Beck's rally and that their march is not in reaction to it.
Obama was spending the weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.
Rally site: http://www.onenationworkingtogether.org/