October 1, 2010
Evidently Vota Tus Valores is adding “skipping stops entirely” to their list of tactics to get Latinos to vote a certain way as part of Alfonso’s Underpants Gnomes theory. Keep it up! -Adam
By Arisha Michelle Hatch
Stop #23: Santa Cruz
The morning began with the same amount of intensity that it ended with yesterday. Close to 15 counter-protesters arrived early – mostly Latino and mostly from SEIU – were quick to greet the Vota Bus with chants of “si se puede.” There was no one else present in the park for Tus Valores to engage.
Alfonso engaged the audience in Spanish first. He appears to have gotten the memo about appearing so enraged.
Most of the organizers still refuse to speak with us, but after 3 days the tactic just seems outdated and tired. My point of view on life is that once you reach a point where you cannot or are afraid to defend or articulate your views, it’s time to reassess. But I digress.
Stop #24: Hollister
In Hollister, the Vota Bus was greeted by an even larger crowd of SEIU and LGBT equality counter-protesters – 24 in total.
One younger Caucasian woman stood behind the protest wearing a Meg Whitman shirt, but she’s clearly not who this tour is designed to engage.
Alfonso showed more signs of frustration at this stop. “I know you’re being paid,” Alfonso said to the crowd dismissively.
Wait a minute, Alfonso, aren’t you being paid too? I’m sure your check is bigger.
Stop #25: Salinas
In Salinas, the Vota Bus had a few more supporters present – if you can call them supporters; at least 3 were clear anti-choice supporters, the other 4 were brought by the Victory Outreach ministry and were not quite sure why they were there. They sat at a picnic table about 15 feet behind the counter-protest waving the fans Tus Valores had just given them.
“I’m not sure what to think about all this,” one Latina from Victory Outeach told me. “It’s a lot to take in.”
When asked what he thought of the counter-protest Alfonso broke his vow of silence and mumbled “real lame.” Funny, I thought seeing Latinos actively involved in the political process, regardless of party affiliation, was a good thing, Alfonso? Isn’t that what you said earlier?
But apparently I’m the only liar on this tour.
Stop #26: Soledad
Possibly the strongest stop of the tour for Tus Valores thus far, we arrived at an empty park followed closely by a bus from the Victory Outreach ministry carrying 8 members from the local men’s group.
Pastor Richard Ramos opened the show talking about how he had managed to overcome inner city challenges like gangs and drugs by finding God.
He seemed to really connect with the men and I thought for a moment that this tour had turned a corner. For a fleeting moment, I got it – these men were people that no one in either party has fought to engage. I actually clapped when Ramos’ speech was complete.
Stop #27: Paso Robles
Just as we were beginning to think that the Tus Valores tour had hit its stride, we didn’t see any sign of the Vota Bus in Paso Robles.
Forced to stop for gas, we lost sight of the Vota Bus just after the short stop in Soledad. We estimated that we were 5-10 minutes behind them, but figured we could a) make up the time and b) that tour organizers had shown a renewed commitment to actually show up at the announced location.
Boy, did we underestimate the sham-ness of this tour.
As soon as we were able to get back on the 101 freeway, an accident occurred a few miles ahead causing traffic to backup.
Unsure whether the Vota Bus had been delayed, we took a detour off the 101 (a privilege that comes with actually being from California) in an attempt to get ahead of the traffic, eventually arriving at a park in Paso Robles at approximately 4:20 pm just as the lead advance car was leaving the scene. Because no literature had been handed out to park attendees and after receiving a tweet from the Tus Valores team that although they were running late they’d still planned to make there two scheduled stops. We hung around in Paso Robles until around 5:15 when we received word via tweet that they were skipping the Paso Robles stop and heading straight to Santa Maria.
Too bad. The Paso Robles location was well scouted by the advance team. There was no counter-protest and tons of people (many Latino) hanging out in the park or walking around the town square. Nonetheless, the advance team opted not to engage.
Stop #28: Santa Maria
So we hopped back on the road and arrived in Santa Maria around 6:15 pm. Several minutes later we received a tweet saying that they were closing shop for the day.
Ironically, the the park in Santa Maria had tons of Latino voters to engage – a youth soccer league was practicing as their parents sat idly on the sidelines.
You heard it right. The Vota Bus blew off two stops without batting an eye. Traffic was bad, but not that bad. We left after them and managed to make it to both stops. I don’t even think they tried because this is not a real tour. Only the people on that bus know what happened today after the Soledad stop at 2:30. Is anyone actually supposed to believe that the Vota Bus couldn’t cover a total of 131 miles in less than 4 hours?
Nah, I don’t buy it for one second – they saw that they lost us and made a few stops. I wonder what they would’ve done for the last 5 days if we hadn’t been on this tour?
But the events of today do remind us that what we’re doing out here is important. These people need oversight and regulation. On a personal note, I’m sick and tired of organizations like this one who take money and claim to do meaningful work on behalf of minorities.
I guess everyone has skipped out of work early on a Friday before and it would have been really difficult to come all the way out to California without stopping for a wine tasting, but give me a break.
We can only speculate.
I’m sure Anonygrl can fill in a few gaps for us all. Duty calls, my friend.
Onto Santa Barbara. Maybe they should just quit while they’re ahead. Oh wait, they’re not.