GLENS FALLS — I came downtown for LARAC’s annual crafts festival, but the show was around the corner at Centennial Circle.
I was curious about the protest that was scheduled for noon in front of Rep. Elise Stefanik’s office. Organizers said they were bringing a Trump chicken balloon that was 20 feet tall.
That’s just something you don’t see every day in downtown Glens Falls.
The rally was part of an “Impeach Trump National Day of Action” and was actually down Warren Street where it intersects with the roundabout. But the big chicken balloon was there, along with 35 to 40 demonstrators against President Trump.
It was 12:15 and across the street were a handful of Trump supporters. I counted five or six of them.
On both sides of the street they were chanting, yelling, waving signs — some with written profanities — as passing cars tried to get through the roundabout.
I walked through the crowd and took some photographs.
In the island between the entrance and exit to the roundabout toward South Glens Falls, I noticed a man and woman engaging in conversation.
I’m being kind.
They were yelling at each other.
The woman was older with gray hair, holding a sign that explained her husband’s chemotherapy had gone from $10,000 to $12,000 per month.
A man stood behind her with a blue Trump sign.
Another man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” ball cap backwards was holding a pole with a banner on it.
She was angry and she kept yelling.
At times, she looked menacing.
The man with the Trump hat had a hard time getting in a word as he repeated her problems had nothing to do with Trump.
She reiterated the problems her family was facing as if she did not hear the man.
As I shot video of the two of them, it occurred to me that I had seen this scene many times before on television — American citizens at odds with each other and unable to communicate.
Then it occurred to me, this was Glens Falls.
This was Hometown, USA, where a couple months earlier the community had rallied around the bandstand in the park to honor the state champion basketball team.
The two protesters kept jabbering at each other, neither listening to the other.
I don’t think it would have taken much of a spark for violence to erupt.
For someone to shove someone else.
For profanities to be used.
I suspect it could have gotten ugly quick.
Right here in Glens Falls.
This is where we are as a community.
This is where we are as a country.
Last week, I wrote about my experience with the Better Angels group and the 16 people who met at Crandall Public Library, looking for help in talking to and engaging friends and neighbors who have different political beliefs.
It was dividing their families. The two people locking horns in the middle of Glens Falls needed a session with Better Angels.
But when I reached out to the political leadership of this community earlier this spring about Better Angels, I got no commitments.
I got little interest.
And when two information sessions and a skills workshop were held, they responded with silence.
There were no Democratic leaders at the Better Angels meeting that I am aware of.
There were no Republicans that I am aware of.
None of them bothered to show up, because they really don’t care about making things better, about coming to an understanding about each other’s concerns.
I suspect they know that they are part of the problem and they have no incentive to change.
They have failed our communities.
They should be ashamed.