LEXINGTON, KY - Climbing a hill on the other side of the Red Mile Harness Track from UK campus, before I even saw the crowd, I heard the famous call-and-response: “Show me what democracy looks like!” “This is what democracy looks like!” It was 91 degrees Fahrenheit and the Vice President of the United States of America was speaking at a local business in Lexington, Kentucky.
I had left my university job early and headed on foot towards Bryant’s Rent-All. Crossing South Broadway, where Virginia Avenue turns into Red Mile at about 4:30 pm, I saw a lone protester standing guard with a cardboard sign. Traffic onto Red Mile was blocked off by police—at the command of the Secret Service. I was going the right direction. I kept walking.
A crowd was gathered on either side of the road, alongside television news crews. By this point the crowd was taking a break from chanting and was instead trying to engage in conversation the steady trickle of suited men emerging from the building where Mike Pence was speaking on the GOP’s American Health Care Act.
The suited men rarely spoke back. “We feel the Vice President is pretty isolated in his world in Washington,” said a woman—who has chosen to remain anonymous—from the organization Our Revolution Central Kentucky. She continued, in a vein of hope: “We are glad that he’s stepping out to Kentucky but we need to take this opportunity to…make him aware that this legislation is extremely damaging to the average Kentuckian, and I’m not sure that all the average Kentuckians are really aware of that.”
Our Revolution Central Kentucky represents several counties in the area around Lexington, some red, some blue, all frustrated. It associates itself with the D.C.-based Our Revolution, which sprung up after the unexpected success of Bernie Sanders’ bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. These groups self-identify as progressive as opposed to liberal, avoiding close association with the Democratic Party itself.
I headed home, and by 5:30 I was crossing South Broadway again and Red Mile had just been re-opened to incoming traffic. Lexington would return to its normal self, nearly entirely forgotten in the grand scheme of American politics, but Lexingtonians continue to resist.