Code Pink takes outdoor politics inside the convention

Two members of Code Pink, the feminist antiwar group, somehow got inside the Republican convention, and aired their grievances with the Romney/Ryan ticket.

They only had a few moments to battle for prime time attention with Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who had the advantage of the microphone, the podium, and the support of the crowd.

The two women, Ann Wright and Laura Mills, shouted “My Body, My Choice,” and unfurled banners with pointed slogans:  “Fund Healthcare not Warfare!”  and “Vagina. Can’t say it? Don’t legislate it.”  Their protest unified the Republican crowd more dramatically than Rep. Ryan’s speech, and the conventioneers shouted down the protesters, chanting “USA, USA” until security guards removed them.

With very tight security, how did Code Pink get into the arena?  Sarah Wheaton at the New York Times reports that a disaffected Ron Paul delegate gave them his credentials.  (Remember, Rep. Paul’s supporters think that the Republican establishment quashed their legitimate dissent, ignoring and changing rules to silence the libertarian stream in the party.)

Code Pink took advantage of the split in the party to seize a moment or two of prime time.

Meanwhile, outside the convention Code Pink has been more colorful and provocative.  Focusing on access to abortion, the activists have performed as dancing vaginas: “Take Your Vaginas to the RNC.”

Code Pink is hardly sanguine about the Obama administration’s policies, mounting a campaign against the administration’s use of killer dronesThey’ll be protesting at the Democratic convention as well.

The language and the style, of course, are all about getting attention.  The important audience isn’t the delegates nearby, but the broader public that might see the videos on youtube or read about the disruption in convention reports.  The potential danger is that the tactic will overshadow the issue.  No doubt some people will stop listening after they hear the word, “vagina,” much less see an approaching dance troupe comprised of them.

Will the Democratic delegates react as the Republicans did?  My guess is that the Democrats will be less likely to shout down the demonstrators than to roll their eyes.

About David S. Meyer

Author and professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine
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