For want of a magic marker, who knows how many battles have been lost. It's the weapon of choice in many campaigns: Anti-war protests and PTA bake sales, town council elections and pee-wee hockey fundraisers.
Well before noon on Monday, a large crowd had begun to gather outside Boston's historic Old South Meeting House, the organizing site of the 1773 Boston Tea Party. There were people who'd already been closed out of Hilary Clinton's early afternoon campaign rally, hapless tourists and random gawkers. For Clinton supporter Billie Jo Joy, unable to get a seat inside, this all spelled nothing so much as opportunity.
She sprinted over to the nearest Staples, grabbed some poster board and a bunch of markers, and then set the crowd to work brainstorming slogans and making signs.
"The campaign needs a clear and striking vision," explained Joy, who herself would have no trouble passing any truth in labeling standard. She confessed slight unhappiness, though, with the campaign's logo—a blue "H" skewered by a red arrow, which sadly seems to reflect the vision the candidate sees when she views herself in the mirror—"I don't think a spear's the image we want to convey." Joy got the restless crowd to sign their posters with supportive notes for Clinton, to make up cheers to greet her when she exits the building.
But there also seems to be an angry white male homing device set somewhere deep in the crowd. "Here Comes The Wall!" and "You're paying for The Wall!" young guys chant as they randomly cut through knots of people. "How many women is Bill banging while his wife's in Massachusetts?" growls an old white guy who looks like he hasn't got any since the Korean War.
Since the media is all about visuals, Joy—who is not only a yoga instructor but teaches acting at Emerson College—and her friend Emily Sinagra, a writer, position themselves up against the rope line in front of the entrance to the Meeting House. "And we're mothers, too," adds Joy, in a way that lets you know this is not a recent designation. They're hoping to raise one of their homemade signs—"HIL ALL READY"—when their candidate exits. However, after a few false alarms, the flash of blue lights and the scream of sirens clues them in that she's departed through a side exit.
Spirits not dampened, not even a bit, they are joking about who they can get to sponsor them so they can go to Attorney General Maura Healey's pricey Clinton fundraiser on Wednesday. Their sign catches the attention of a passerby. "Hey, you got a great candidate!" a young white man calls out, and Joy seems to brighten—if such a thing were possible—a little more. He yells something not quite intelligible, something about lies and Congress and then repeats "A great candidate!" Sinagra's face has turned blank, while Joy is slowly making the transition from welcoming to puzzled to stung.
This guy couldn't be prouder of himself. It's not Bernie Sanders he's channeling here, or even his inner Cornel West. It's not political. Rather, it seems as through he simply likes the way the words "war criminal" roll off his tongue. He's walking backwards now, shouting, showing off, propelled not by any particular convictions but energized by the power of the taunt. Once he was some mother's little boy. Once she helped him with his school valentines, made posters for his pee-wee hockey fundraisers. What would she think of him now, one wonders, her big boy who can't even walk backwards and think at the same time?
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