Quad-City occupiers converged on Davenport’s LeClaire park Saturday with the signs, slogans, costumes and intentions of those like-minded demonstrators elsewhere occupying parks, finance districts and government complexes.
Organizer Roger Farinha welcomed the earnest band with a sermon on civil, civic involvement, not a chant for civil disobedience. He then called the first speaker to the soap box: an articulate, forceful orator whose social activism predated most of those in the audience. Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba roused the crowd with social theology proclamations and quotes from the U.S. Constitution, Martin Luther King and the Pope. His challenges would make the Chamber of Commerce squirm.
Indeed, Second Ward Alderman Bill Edmond departed disgusted after the mayor’s clear call for wealth redistribution. The speech covered topics Gluba rarely mentions in council chambers or ribbon cuttings. But none of it was news to those who’ve followed Gluba’s state legislative and congressional campaigns. Like many of those who joined the Quad-City occupiers Saturday, Davenport’s pro-life liberal mayor is hard to peg.
Vietnam veteran and ardent Democrat Art Heyderman stood near Michael Elliott, the Quad-City super-liberty organizer and former independent auditor candidate. Near him were others who’d cheered for Republican Ron Paul a day earlier at a Figge Art Museum rally.
Next to them was Caroline Vernon of the Progressive Action for the Common Good of the Quad-Cities, decidedly liberal activists whose members worked hard for Barack Obama.
This political potpourri sat together and cheered Quad-City poet Jason Cant’s raging verse against all things establishment. They stood together in ovation for the incumbent mayor.
These tea party and occupy sentiments seem to be striking a minor chord at events like Saturday’s.
But then these activists retreat back to separate factions: Democrats, Republicans, Ron Paul supporters, two brands of Q-C tea parties, progressives and some counter-culture activists with zero interest in any party. It would seem that “independent” is not a viable choice around here.
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So where are the 47,632 Scott County residents who identify themselves as independent on voter registration roles? Those specifically selecting “no party” account for 41 percent of all registered voters in Scott County.
Among the 774 newly registered Scott County voters in September and October, independents outnumber Republicans and Democrats combined. Indeed, Scott’s County’s independent bloc would be big enough to pretty much dictate leadership at every level of Iowa Quad-City government.
But they’re not showing up at tea party events, nor Saturday’s Occupy rally.
So where are these folks?