Progressive Maryland Mobilizes Silver Spring for Bush Protest
June 2005 - 450 Progressive Maryland Members and Allies Protest President Bush's Phony "Town Hall Meeting" in Silver Spring and Criticize His Plan to Privatize Social Security
Supporters of Progressive Maryland try to confront President Bush Thursday at Montgomery Blair High School. Source for photo and caption: The Washington Examiner
Who are the P.R. geniuses in the White House who decided to send President George W. Bush to Silver Spring last Thursday to sell his plan to privatize Social Security?
Maybe the President’s message gurus thought the close proximity to the White House outweighed the risk of sending Dubya to the bluest of blue states to tout his nutty give-away to Wall Street. Maybe they thought local progressives could not mobilize a sizable protest with only 36 hours notice. Maybe they thought the media would fail to notice that every person attending the “Town Hall Meeting” was a carefully selected GOP militant bused in from the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the RNC, and even some from as far away as North Carolina.
Or maybe the President’s men pointed out all these risks – only to be overruled by a Commander-in-Chief who believes himself invincible.
Whatever its reasons, the White House forgot one crucial factor: Progressive Maryland. PM and allies, with less than two days notice, mobilized 450 real Marylanders – seniors, workers, students, parents – to tell Dubya what Marylanders think of him and his plan. After being denied entrance to the “Town Hall Meeting”, we massed right outside Blair High School and let the President know – through our chants and signs – that we oppose his effort to replace the federal government’s most successful program with a stock-market gamble that would impoverish seniors and explode the national debt.
Even more important, we dominated the media war. At our protest we exposed the fraud of a Town Hall Meeting where real residents are barred entry. And at our press conference after the protest, we released a report by the Institute For America’s Future, showing that the privatization scheme would plunge 92,000 Maryland seniors into poverty and cost the state billions in increased welfare outlays.
After his P.R. debacle, the President high-tailed it back to the White House. But Maryland is still stuck with Dubya's mini-me -- Gov. Bob Ehrlich -- who has a similar allergy to free speech and honest debate. Why does Ehrlich refuse to take a position on the President’s plan to privatize Social Security? Considering that Bush’s plan would place, in effect, a $13 billion unfunded federal mandate on Maryland, Governor Ehrlich must take a position. If Bush's plan passes, will Ehrlich raise taxes or slash services even more? Where do you stand, Gov. Ehrlich? Do you side with the people of Maryland, who overwhelmingly reject Bush’s plan – or with the sitting President of your own party?
Marylanders let Dubya know what they think of his nutty, right-wing attempt to privatize Social Security.
Protesters march down University Blvd, right in front of the high school entrance, as Bush's handlers fume nearby.
After the protest, Progressive Maryland Executive Director Tom Hucker hosts a news conference, where he releases a report showing that Bush's plan would plunge 92,000 Maryland seniors into poverty and function as a multibillion dollar, unfunded federal mandate on the state.
On the morning of June 23, 450 protesters line up behind Progressive Maryland's banner and begin to march to Blair High School, where President Bush is about to begin his phony "Town Hall Meeting."
Blair alum and PM volunteer Cory Choy tells President Bush that he does not appreciate Dubya's attack on Americans' retirement security -- or the President's cynical attempt to make it look like Marylanders support this plan by packing the audience at Blair H.S. with out-of-town GOP interns.
Tom Hucker addresses demonstrators and reporters at PM's press conference.
Cory Choy, former Blair student and current PM volunteer, tells President Bush that Maryland disagrees with him.
Demonstrators, here led by Blair students, take to the streets, expressing their outrage that President Bush chose their school to stage his fake town hall meeting.