Today we took the family over to Fengyuan for a rally for Chiu Tai-san, the DPP candidate for Taichung County Commissioner. The rally commenced in the south-central part of the city and then walked down Chungshan Rd, the main drag, a few kilometers to Tanzi, where a stage had been prepared at a local school. The candidates gave speeches there to much noisy acclamation.
Fengyuan is generally friendlier to Chiu, and was absolutely plastered with ads for Chiu and the other candidates. We asked the Chiu campaign volunteers why there were so few Chiu ads in Tanzi, and they explained that each time they are put up, someone comes along and takes them down. There's still lots of dirty tricks going on in Taiwan politics.
Zeb poses with a water bottle featuring Lin Chia-lung, the DPP candidate for Taichung mayor.
The rally was slated for 2:30 but we came an hour earlier, to find a good parking spot (which the police promptly evicted me from) and soak up that good DPP atmosphere.
First we nicked massive amounts of election stuff. I am always impressed by the sheer amount of stuff the world produces.
The local TV showed up for the festivities.
Posing with flags and banners.
What would an election rally be without plenty of noise?
Mom the DPP babe.
This old couple insisted I take a picture of this poster from the 2004 Chen campaign.
Naturally, standing around, a prominently pro-DPP foreigner, the Chiu campaign immediately drafted me to hold one of the effigies that would flank the election stand. Zeb and Dan-dan stood alongside me right in front.
As time went by thousands showed up from the various local DPP campaigns.
Here we are. The leather strap helped support the weight of the thing, which was not only heavy, but took off in the wind like the mast of the Flying Cloud.
Sheridan and I get into some good father-daghter bonding.
One of the sins of the opposition.
Chiu Tai-san, left, chats with a policeman.
Here we are posing one of the DPP heavyweights, Chen Jyu, the former head of the labor bureau, driven from office by the ridiculous Kaohsiung MRT scandal. Long a champion of human rights, she was jailed by the KMT back in the old days. She is one of my wife's heroes.
Here we are being arranged in place by one of the DPP volunteers.
Everyone waits in high anticipation for....
Vice President Annette Lu. Lu is one of my favorite Taiwan politicians. She dresses just like your batty old aunt, and just like your batty old aunt, says whatever she damn well pleases.
Here she and Chiu Tai-san share a platform. DPP heavyweights campaigned all over island today.
Drumming up a storm with Chiu.
That's me carrying the purple one.
The Veep's security detail was amazing. Since a pan-Blue supporter took a shot at the President and Vice-President the day before the election last year, security has tightened tremendously.
The march began as Lu rode off to the next assignment.
Here I am marching. My back was about stretched out of shape at this point. Along the march dozens of old people stopped to shake my hand and thank me, and praise my children for their good looks. Several people also walked along to chat and explain things to me, conversations which invariably ended with a sigh of disgust and the use of the term "Kuomintang" as an expletive.
A TV news reporter interviews me. Several reporters cornered me, cameras in tow, and asked why I supported the DPP. I tried to give some disgustingly earnest answers.
We were instructed to slow down so that the march could spread out along the route.
Marchers crowd the road.
At this point, an hour into the walk, my kids' enthusiasm and energy was flagging.
A volunteer leads cheers.
Marchers crowd a street corner, election ads providing a backdrop.
Destination! A local junior high school.
Everyone gathered around for the rally. At this point most of the marchers had departed for a nap and dinner.
The kids explore Dan-dan's new electronic dictionary.
The candidates speak.
Now that you've gotten all the way down here, it is time to review the pics and ask yourself: what didn't I see here? The answer? Young people. Aside from a few diehard volunteers, there were virtually no young people present. I have never met a more politically apathetic group of young people than Taiwanese young adults. Fortunately they seem to grow out of it.
UPDATE: David adds in the comments below:
I suspect a big reason for the Taiwanese obsession with rallies is that plenty of people grew up with demonstrations their only possible outlet for influencing change: People who have grown up in a dictatorship demonstrate. People who have grown up in a democracy vote.
[Taiwan] [DPP] [KMT]