The rain falling from the dark sky is barely liquid. The thermometer reads 33 as we step out into the early evening—this is not the kind of night I’d want to be outside, but this is important. When we arrive in Bethlehem there are already maybe a couple hundred people lining Rose Garden Park with signs. We park and join them. Many of the signs are clever and to the point: “I shouldn’t have to miss Nixon,” and “Vichy Republicans—shame on you!” This winter of discontent, crumbling democracy, we are here as warm bodies on a cold night to protest what has gone on far too long. The impeachment vote is scheduled for today and across the country people have come out—supper hastily eaten or yet to be started when they get home—to say enough is enough.
Now Pennsylvania isn’t the bluest of states. I wasn’t sure of what our reception would be on the busy corner of 8th Avenue and Union. I was amazed. Large numbers of cars, and even some commercial trucks, honked their horns in support as they drove by. Thumbs up out windows in the cold air. Long blasts on horns. For sure, many drivers remained silent, but only three that I counted bothered to roll down their windows and shout support for Trump. They were treated respectfully and cordially by the protesters, many of whom were considerably older than my wife and me. I listened to snatches of conversations as my fingers and toes grew numb. Vietnam vets, and even one from the Second World War. Retirees who should be spending December nights in their warm homes. We all had something important to do. We had to stand and be counted.
Because of a childhood incident, I suffered mild frostbite on my fingers and toes. It is excessively painful for me to be out in the cold to this day. We could only stay for about an hour and a half. It was a work night after all. There were many stalwarts still holding signs and chanting as we headed back to our car. Around a sign for the park where other, more temporary signs stood, a protester said, “Someday maybe we won’t have to do this anymore.” A younger man corrected him. This happened because we failed to be vigilant. Vichy Republicans are a real thing and although the elections are about eleven months away, we need to get ready. We need to get everyone out to vote. If the signs of support we saw last night reflect the feelings of Americans, it’s time for us to become a democracy again.