Democracy: Millions of Americans across the country lined up for hours to buy chicken sandwiches — and take a stand for free speech. That's a de facto demonstration, from a public fed up with overweening big government.
It was a majestic spectacle seeing citizens in cities large and small across America — including, yes, Chicago — line up at Chick-fil-A restaurants to support the right to free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association.
All of those were under attack when President Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago, along with leftist aldermen in his city and the mayors of Boston and Washington, D.C., condemned Chick-fil-A as "hate chicken" and vowed to expel the chain from their cities.
Why did this happen? Because the company's CEO, Dan Cathy, expressed his personal support for traditional marriage, a view seen by the left as a threat to the one they're pushing: gay marriage.
Cathy didn't say anything about hating gays, nor did his restaurant refuse to serve food to gays, nor did he vow to never hire a gay person. He merely expressed an opinion and the leftist power structure — in the media and in politics — went ballistic.
But it's a common view in America.
Voters have rejected gay marriage propositions in the states 32 out of 32 times. That the left can rain its full intolerance and contempt down on the majority speaks volumes about its contempt for the public.
Emanuel himself declared the view "un-American" and contrary to "Chicago values."
It shows that the leftist political establishment's interests have nothing in common with what the American public sees as important — which is not just the gay marriage issue but, more fundamentally, the fact that free speech, the right to practice one's faith and freedom of association are under attack.
It's significant that West Hollywood's Chick-fil-A on Sunset Boulevard, a famous gay redoubt, was just as packed as Chick-fil-As in places like Opelika, Ala.; Waddell, Ariz.; Pompano Beach, Fla.
Even many of those who support gay marriage, such as Instapundit.com's Glenn Reynolds, have come out solidly for everyone's right to free speech without fear of big government intimidation.
The proof was in the pictures.
From Steve Hogge's photo of Rolls-Royces lining up at Chick-fil-A's Davie, Fla., drive-through window, to Political Derby's photo of troops and lawmen lining up in Charleston, S.C., the image was of a huge silent protest from the majority.
The call for free speech is a strong one because government has grown overarching, arrogant and more powerful as its size has expanded.
The protest Wednesday was a powerful echo of the Tea Party movement, which expresses the same voter cry of "stop" against massive government growth and all its economy-killing debt.
Movements like this — and this one incidentally attracted a lot of young women who are often a reliable indicator of a revolution hitting a tipping point — have potential to foretell real change ahead.
Already the Tea Party is proving this, getting representatives elected and re-elected to high office to force the government to cut down. The Chick-fil-A demonstration portends yet another wave. Many of the demonstrators said the Chick-fil-A lines were a foretaste of the Nov. 6 election.
Simply put, politicians need to wake up. It's no longer acceptable to expand grandly and declare civil war on people whose only "crime" is expressing views that are contrary to some politicians.
Worse still, it's despicable for political leaders to threaten to use their political power, entrusted to them by the people themselves, to drive people out of business, to banish them from the public square.
The Internet photos show that everywhere is the public square now. It's time to end the left's culture of political correctness, which can be done only by cutting big government. The message has been sent.