I've said before to anyone who will listen (i.e. no one in particular), that history is a function of will as much as it is anything else. The ultimate will over which we struggle is that of the will of the people. And it is the will of the people that any and all protests seek to demonstrate. Of the two rallies that took place at the statehouse last Wednesday on October 2, which one better represented the will of the people? Ain't No Love reports, and will also decide. Activism is a funny bird. By the time this prints, the government will still probably be shut down. In a parallel universe, this would be a mitzvah. I will admit that I have chanted “We're gonna rise up, we're gonna shut it down” quite a number of times at demonstrations. But this isn't that parallel universe, and so instead, the federal government shutdown and the Tea Party saga are rather instructive lessons on the limits of populist activism. For the purposes of analysis, let us accept that the Tea Party is/was a movement that contained significant amounts of Astro-turf, but arose out of real popular discontent. To topple a structure, you need people pushing on the inside and the outside. What had happened with the Tea Party was that it was a movement that sought access to the levers of power as quickly as possible, instead of taking time to build broader legitimacy among the people. If, as the government shutdown, there were also massive demonstrations in D.C. and around the country in support of the Tea Party agenda, Obama would not be able to claim that they were hijacking the country. I kept this lesson in mind as I approached the statehouse steps at noon last Wednesday for the “We Won't Go Back” rally, which was to speak out against the heartbeat bill, which would in essence criminalize abortion past six weeks. The turnout, by my estimate, was decent, though certainly not enough to shut that whole thing down, though at around 850, it was, according to one speaker, the largest there had been at the statehouse in a very long time. It reminded me of the Democratic National Convention, replete with talking-points-cum-rallying-cries, most prominently “We Won't Go Back.” It ended on time and people left to a resounding of “Girl on Fire.” There were a smattering of anarchists. An hour later I found myself in Trinity Episcopal Church. Drumming provided a centering to open. Then a member of the Ohio Student Association spoke about the effects of the Stand Your Ground law, HB 203. After a few other speakers, which carried out in the tradition of the black church, with “mmhmms” aplenty, we had a prayer, and I have to say that I definitely felt the presence of the divine. It was a reminder of the power that can come when spirituality is combined with social justice, but also the danger, as all around the world people are feeling similar tinglies and sense of purpose as they carry out missions that most of us in the “civilized” world would find horrifying. Today though, the only dying for a cause that will happen will be symbolic, as dozens of people plan to lay down in front of the statue of McKinley in front of the Statehouse, not even attempting to go to the steps that held the rally a couple of hours earlier. The march to the Statehouse was uneventful, but as we got there, a modest form of that familiar chaos that comes with any legitimate demonstration emerged. A makeshift fence with zip ties and sandbags surrounded the McKinley statue, a fence that, according to the OSA organizers, wasn't even there earlier in the morning. This is state suppression of the pettiest form. Later I asked one of them why that fence was there, and none of them could tell me. However, as it was clear from the outset, this was a well organized event and the situation quickly stabilized. The only disruptions were from a gaggle of armed counter-demonstrators holding signs from the NRA and repeatedly asserting all of the smug misplaced entitlement that somehow a bill that removed the duty to retreat from self-defense situations was not “Stand Your Ground” (snark sidebar: if this squadron of fifty-year old overweight neckbeards are the ones who are going to start the next civil war over gun control legislation, I have to say I'm not at all afraid). This demonstration also ended on time, and everyone met back at the church for a wrap-up. Despite the military occupation that occurred on the Ohio State campus for a few days back in the 70's, Columbus is not known for its protest culture, and these glimpses into the current manifestations of activism/resistance were illuminating. Columbus is the equilibrium, the gyroscopic center, the heart of the heart-shaped heart of the heartland of America. But that's exactly why commitment to revolutionary ideas is all the more important. Most revolutions, from China to France to Syria start in the countryside and make their way to the capital/big cities. Columbus, in essence, is the cutoff man, the distribution hub both inward and outward. Right now, the only people out here in these country streets are the Tea Party, but the revolution will never be bankrolled by Heritage Action Network. And in this gyroscope, last Wednesday, we had 2 rallies, both in support of what should be relatively inoffensive moves to stop McLegislation courtesy of ALEC, one surprisingly institutional and one surprisingly confrontational. And while neither may provide the sort of revolutionary dopamine rush found during my venture in the San Francisco Bay Area, they carried with them that unmistakable Midwestern sincerity and dedication. These are the people puttin' in work, grindin' for social justice, not being lured by siren superPACs with tales of government shutdowns and immediate results. Instead of shutting down the government, they'd rather occupy the capitol. I will not prognosticate as to the success of either issue, but I can say that whatever successes they have will truly be the work of the people, armed counter-demonstrators or no. Address all hate mail to