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What’s the new what? Here at the Democratic National Convention, I’ve observed that hope is the new rebellion. Meaning, protesters outside the Convention are using Barack Obama’s message of “hope” as a way to frame their demonstrations against Democratic Party politics as usual.
Jean: Today, we’re just trying to be really positive, really hopeful, let Obama supporters know that we want the end of the war to be at the forefront of their minds.
That’s 24-year-old Jean Stevens with the female-led peace group Code Pink. Instead of their usual “Stop the War” slogans, Code Pink’s main chant today is “get’r done!” They’re urging Senator Obama and other leaders to find quick and peaceful solutions in the Middle East.
That sort of solution-oriented framing is a departure from the “lesser of 2 evils” rhetoric that dominated DNC protests like this one four years ago.
It appears the Code Pink protestors aren’t alone in embracing upbeat messaging. Other demonstrators carry colorful puppets and costumes at a march called the Procession For the Future.
Twenty-three-year old Kristy Horner from Washington State is setting up a Statue of Liberty Float, an American icon she says she wants to reclaim in the name of peace.
KRISTY: I'm not protesting the DNC, we need change. I'm trying to say that peace is possible and that we can do things non violently. There's no need to be yelling or condemning people.
But Jean Stevens of Code Pink says despite the softer approach of this year’s DNC protestors, they’re still being criticized by party die-hards.
JEAN: People saying you're preaching to the choir why are you bringing negative energy? Why are you here- Obama's on your side, the democratic party's on your side.
Stevens says there’s a debate among activist groups here about what it even means to protest this week when so many young people are driving Barack Obama's campaign for "hope and change."
Okay, if you’re thinking there’s no way the protests in Denver are a complete hippie hope fest, you’re right. There are those protesters who are openly disappointed with Obama. Here’s 23-year-old Emily Isley.
Emily: It's such a bummer this whole area is so Obamatized. We're from Detroit and people are selling these t shirts with Obama and a little picture of Malcolm X in the corner. And its such a projection on what people want and what they're not getting- something more radical.
Emily has a poster that says "Obama: different face, same system, no change."
But even she’s taking the opportunity to "reach across the aisle" to Obama supporters of every variety.
Emily: I think we do need to use this moment strategically look we're progressive, you're progressive, we need to unite for change and that change needs to come from below.
So it seems like hope is the new rebellion, at least this week, anyway. They could be singing a very different tune next week at the Republican Convention in St Paul.