Barry Saunders

Never mind how many were at Saturday’s march. How many voted? – Saunders

My march’s bigger than your march

My march’s bigger than yours

My march is bigger

cos I made up the figures and

My march is bigger than yours ...

Sung to the tune of that old Appalachian spiritual, “My March’s Bigger than Yours.”

Just as with the size of that gift you got Sweet Thang for Valentine’s Day, the size of the crowds at protests and rallies is irrelevant. Indeed – especially with gifts – true value is often in inverse proportion to size.

Think I’m jiving? Which costs more – a pair of fuzzy bedroom slippers or a diamond bracelet?

Now, which comes in a bigger box?


The same could be true of the marches meant to demonstrate opposition to government policies. Despite all of the fervor whipped up in the months leading up to the 2016 election, voter turnout for the election was only slightly higher than it had been in 2012. The Federal Election Commission reported that only 60 percent of registered voters voted.

What, was there a “Jerry Springer” or “Maury” marathon on Nov. 8? Did Nike come out with a new style of Jordans that day?

Our current president seemingly spent many campaign speeches decrying the media for under reporting the size of his crowds, and then the size of his inauguration crowd. It was, according to his people, the largest crowd in the history of the world anywhere.

The under reporting was, of course, the work of the liberal – tee hee – media.

Now, marchers in Saturday’s HKonJ protest in downtown Raleigh are decrying the alleged under-reporting of their numbers. Social media posts coming from some participants and organizers claim that 80,000 people turned out. The crowd size was impressive, but how can one tell there were 80,000? Why not 80,001, because someone had to go get a caramel macchiato and didn’t get counted?

Counting or estimating crowd size is difficult. At the HKonJ march in 2014, I actually tried counting marchers but stopped at 20. People wouldn’t stand still long enough, nor could I be sure if I’d counted the dude in the yellow polka-dot sweater twice – because surely there weren’t two people with such bad taste, were there?

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the N.C. Republican Party, was uncharacteristically restrained when, in an N&O story last week, he said of the marchers, “They have every right to speak out and to gather and to be involved and have a constitutional right to address their grievances.”

Halleluyer! Yes, and they also have a constitutional right to vote. How many of them did, though?

Just as certain neighborhoods require stickers on cars before you can park, the Rev. William Barber II and the other march leaders should require marchers to bear stickers proving they voted before they can participate or sing one stanza of “We Shall Overcome.”

Extrapolating is dangerous – unless it’s blackstrap molasses, which is delicious – but judging by the size of the crowds on Raleigh’s streets during the HKonJ marches, I can extrapolate that either a lot of people who marched didn’t vote or all of the voters were marching.

Remember Marvin Griffin, the hate-mongering Georgia governor of the 1950s?

Of course not, because he’s been relegated to the outhouse of history except for when someone remembers this bon mot attributed to him. As he watched unfavorable elections returns come in, he reportedly said, “Some of the folks who et my barbecue didn’t vote for me.”

The Rev. Barber may have to draw the same conclusion: Some of the folks who’ve been eatin’ up his words aren’t voting.

Marching and clogging the streets is fine as far as providing visual evidence that supporters can be galvanized fer or ag’in something or someone. Unless, though, those same feet march to the voting booth – or down to the post office to mail in an absentee ballot – all of their marching and singing is so much sound and fury negated by their Election Day lethargy.

Were I ever to lead a protest march – quite unlikely unless someone decides to stop showing “The Andy Griffith Show” on TV five times a day or determines that Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries is unhealthy – I would require that any participants had to show that they voted in the last election. (And that they own a television to watch “Andy” on.)

No one with a claim to sanity would support the bill proposed by a North Dakota legislator that would make it legal to run over pedestrian protesters, but I’d certainly back one that made it illegal for anyone who didn’t vote to march against anything.

To appropriate an old schoolyard taunt – I said it, I meant it. I’m here to represent it.

That’s more, I’m guessing, than can be said for a lot of the HKonJ marchers on Election Day. They didn’t represent.

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, @BarrySaunders9