(Photo: Carol J. Adams)
In the United States of America, whenever a cause wants to garner national awareness, it often attempts to do so by staging an event in Washington, DC.
Indeed, one of the many hazards of driving in the District of Columbia is simply never knowing when a road will be blocked off so that a large group of people with signs, flags, and chants can cross.
Although plenty of protests, rallies, and demonstrations have seen immense success, getting a certain number of people at a given place for a given event is never guaranteed.
To wit, provided below is a list of major protest and demonstration fails for the year 2013. Those listed include major rallies, marches, and protests who expected to draw a certain amount of people yet stopped short, sometimes to disastrous effect.
While the list is likely not all inclusive, it will nonetheless showcase many of the big ones. Events are listed in chronological order.
1. Open Carry March (July 4)
Pardon the pun, but debate over the Second Amendment can really get people up in arms. So much so that one individual, libertarian radio host Adam Kokesh, decided to hold a loaded firearms march on Washington in favor of peacefully disbanding the federal government.
While the event garnered a lot of buzz in the Right wing blogosphere, Kokesh canceled the march, instead calling for his peers to protest at the state level.
This cancellation, however, did not stop Kokesh from posting a video on YouTube apparently depicting him loading a shotgun at Freedom Plaza, which is illegal. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty!
2. Fiftieth Anniversary of the March on Washington (August 28)
Unlike the other entries on this list, the celebration of the 50th birthday of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was quite successful in bringing throngs of people to the Nation's Capital.
Broadcasted nationally the March featured several prominent leaders and elected officials. Yet the event had a disappointing turnout given what organizers expected.
While approximately 100,000 people were expected, many news outlets estimated the attendees to be in the tens of thousands at best.
Indeed, the event actually drew fewer people than its 1963 ancestor, when approximately 250,000 people showed up to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. This is especially telling since the original March came at a time when the notion of racial Civil Rights was not universally respected and the American population was about 190 million, or two-thirds of what it is today.
3. One Million Muslim March (September 11)
The tragedy of that Tuesday morning in 2001 has sparked a growing awareness of the Islamic community in the United States. On the 12th anniversary of that day of infamy the American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC) sought to bring 1 million Muslims to the DC area to spread further awareness.
Other than the fact that such a number would represent about one third of the entire Muslim-American population, the march got a wave of negative attention from assorted rightwing groups online and offline as well as the promise of a counter-protest.
Partly as an attempt to allay concerns, AMPAC changed the event name to "Million Americans Against Fear." The effort, which received little attention from many Muslim-American groups, brought a number well below one million. Or even one thousand for that matter. One estimate put the total number of attendees as being as low as 20.
Embarrassingly enough, the march ended up bringing more counter-protesters to DC via the "Two Million Bikers to DC" group, which rode around the District and rebutted the march via superior numbers and louder vehicles. Speaking of which….
4. Two Million Bikers to DC (September 11)
Fulfilling the role of counter-protesters and stirring up patriotic pride along the way, the Two Million Bikers to DC rally involved motorcycles roaming throughout Washington and in response to the "Million Americans Against Fear" March.
Estimates vary wildly as to how many bikers arrived in DC as part of the 'Two Million Bikers to DC' event. The more accurate estimates place it somewhere between 10,000 and 75,000.
While far more impressive than the AMPAC march they came to rebut, the bikers did not come anywhere near to the estimate of their appellation.
5. Peace Vigil Removed (October 20)
Unlike the other entries on this, the Peace Vigil has been around for a long time. The vigil demanding the end to nuclear weapons began in the summer of 1981 and is in its fifth presidential administration.
Also, unlike the other entries on this list, it requires only one person to man the station so as to be a legitimate demonstration.
However in October even that minimal requirement was gone as the lone individual who was looking after the display wondered off. As a result, the display was removed by the United States Park Police.
Eventually the Peace Vigil organizers were able to get their display put back up. But for a brief time the notable humbly iconic popular display was missing from the White House's exterior.
6. Truckers to DC Convoy (October 11)
What better way to scare the people of Capitol Hill then threaten them with even more gridlock?
Well, a group of earnest truckers planned to do just that during the Government Shutdown. Known as "Truckers to Shut Down America" (T2SDA), the far right group hoped to have President Barack Obama removed from public office.
Despite T2SDA's call for trucks to clog the DC area streets at a time of day when they are clogged enough as is, the protest was a flat tire. The expected ten thousand trucks turned out to be about 30 instead.
Photos went viral online supposedly showing the massive convoy in action, but these were often falsely attributed.
One of the photos came from a Make-A-Wish Foundation event in Lancaster, Penn. that happened in May. Amusing enough the Lancaster event drew ten times as many trucks as the T2SDA event.
7. Million Mask March (November 5)
Over the past couple years the online "hacktivist" group Anonymous has made its presence felt in the World Wide Web. Be its attacks on child porn sites, Westboro Baptist Church, and others, Anonymous' cyber-strength is a force to be reckoned with.
However its offline efforts could use some fine-tuning. As with so many activists in the early 21st century, Anonymous has taken to imagery that includes the Guy Fawkes mask featured in the action film V for Vendetta (which despite how its name sounds is not a Sue Grafton novel).
In honor of Guy Fawkes' Day, the Fifth of November, the group planned a Million Mask March for DC and other cities. While the march had as many as 17,000 participants, such a number falls well below the event's description.
Possible antithesis: the Million Mask March boasted of being a global event, so maybe they were more geared towards one million participants worldwide. If so, then biggest apologies ever for putting them on this list.