Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

COLUMN: Bipartisanship begins at home

Published: January 28, 2005
Section: Opinions

On the evening of January 19th, as a bus of 40 students began its journey through the darkened roads of New England and the mid-Atlantic, its passengers sat divided, a wall of tension and political rhetoric split the ranks Dozens were filled with anger, contempt, and regret over the events that were about to take place;

a handful of loyalists were exuberant with anticipation. We were on our way to Washington, a town whose historic events have distracted dedicated students from their studies since the founding of our nation, taking our respective parts in the 2nd inauguration of George W. Bush.

Some slept for the 8 hours we spent on the road, but I was too nervous, too excited to sleep. I had no idea what lay ahead would this be a day that went down in history, or would it be just another to fall by the wayside, only to be rolled out of the C-Span archives for slow news days? Would there be violence? Would there be arrests? And most importantly, at the end of the day, how would these 40 opposing ideologues reunite?

Almost the moment we stepped off the bus the two groups separated. From the beginning there were some who said that our collaboration was one of opportunity, that we would share the cost of a bus and the burden or organizing a trip and part ways as soon as practicalities permitted. For a time, those people seemed to be right.

As the day progressed and rallies turned into marches and marches into rallies, as the music of opposition and voices of dissent filled the air, we felt a new unity with the activists beside us. Men, women and children of every class, culture, race, and background imaginable stood with us, sometimes taking a grave risk in doing so.

They amplified our cries;

they made our message loud enough to envelop a city, to make a country remember just how many people within this nation stand in the most steadfast opposition to President Bush and all that his administration has come to represent. But the momentary euphoria of combined struggle proved fleeting. We had no sense of commonality or shared vision beyond our opposition to, and at times even hatred for, our mutual enemy.

As the day wound down and we all began to return to the lives that we so willingly put on hold for a day, it became clear how little held us together. On the train ride out of the city, as we passed some of Washingtons most powerful people, clad in black ties and formal gowns, I felt alone within the metropolis. No longer was I one of the thousands that took over the streets of DC, no longer did I feel the energy of the masses flowing through my veins only the quiet hum of the Metro.

When we returned to the rendezvous on the outskirts of DC, the bus was not yet there to meet us. In its place were the same Republicans and Bush fanatics we left that very morning., but instead what I saw were Brandeis students, friends, and classmates ready to join me on the trip home.