On a hot, muggy day, I set out to get as close as I could to exercising my right to free speech. Unfortunately, my “representative” Betty Sutton of Ohio’s 13th district believes that the cost of such discourse is $30 a plate. Alo Konsen RSVP’d and I’ll hope to hear from him soon. Me? I spent two hours outside. I was wearing my “astroturf” shirt I had made the night before. On the back it said “Unpaid Since 1776.” I stood in stark constrast to the “cross-section” of Betty’s constituency who arrived in suits and dinner dresses in a variety of different SUVs. Interesting considering her support of restrictive energy policies like Cap and Trade. I wasn’t alone, though.
A man who spoke not a word to me walked back and forth on the sidewalk in front of the University of Akron’s Martin Center. For two straight hours, he walked, carrying a rosary and praying as he walked. On his back, he wore a sign he must have made himself with a wood board, some paper, tape, and a household marker. It read “Abortion is not Health Care.” Those who went inside the stealth town ignored him on the way in and on the way out. Those who passed him on the sidewalk looked but let him be. Members of a nearby fraternity yelled at him that he was moving too slow. He kept at his pace; one step a second for two hours. 7200 steps he walked, give or take. I would not break his prayer until I was ready to leave two hours after we had both arrived. All I could say to this Patriot was “Thank you sir.” When we both went our separate ways, he nodded and waved. Thank you, sir, again.
The tragedy is that Sutton will most likely claim that she discussed issues with her constituents. She did not disclose the details of the meeting on her website, preferring to invite through tightly controlled emails to “friends.” For my part, I cannot afford a $30 meal to speak my mind. Bless those who can. I will wait to hear of the details from them. In the meantime, I thank God for giving me the strength to stand in heat and humidity for two hours and for introducing me to a man I may never meet again but whose silent cadence will be with me all my days.