Indeed, the activists needed direction. With the war in Iraq all but over--at least as far as bombing and gunfire is concerned--the march was awkwardly timed. International attention has shifted from fighting in Iraq to replacing Saddam Hussein's regime and restoring order to the country. The Volunteer Park marchers seemed unsure what they were protesting against, or marching for.
Instead of a coherent rally and march, Saturday's event was more of a liberal free-for-all. Booths were set up for groups like the Green Party, the anti-police-brutality October 22 Coalition, Revolution Books, and supporters of presidential candidate Howard Dean. People could sign up to vote at one table and learn about anarchy at another.
Luckily, Gossett was on hand to give some focus to the scattered activists. In fact, Gossett was the most coherent element of the entire march. Other speakers were content with bashing Bush. 710 KIRO Newsradio's liberal talk show host Mike Webb took to the stage and slammed his rival conservative talk show hosts, saying lefties needed to "take back the meeting." And one singer/poet tried to explain that war was never really over. Gossett, however, didn't get bogged down trying to cutely argue that the war wasn't finished; instead, he moved on. He tried to answer the question that many local antiwar groups have been asking lately: What do they do now? Gossett's advice: Hold Bush accountable for all the grandiose talk of democracy.
"For the people of Iraq to truly get a new society, it's necessary for there to be a grassroots political movement here," he said. The promises the Bush administration has made about a democracy in Iraq may not be realized, Gossett explained in his gravelly voice, unless folks in the U.S. keep the pressure on. "I don't believe it will happen," he said, unless activists are "involved and vigilant."