Advocates of liberal political positions have converged in the nation capital Saturday to express their concerns before Congressional elections in November. Many said they hoped Democrats will retain control of Congress, but that reform and change has been too slow since President Barack Obama took office last year.
A drummer called on tens of thousands of protesters to converge onto the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial.
Speeches took place around the National Mall, including one against war by a group called the United National Antiwar Committee.
A group called Code Pink chanted "I like justice with my tea, but funding war is not for me", in reference to the anti-big government but mostly pro-military movement called the Tea Party.
The conservative grassroots movement held their own march called 'Restoring Honor' at the same location several weeks ago. So-called Tea Party candidates have won several important primary opposition Republican elections, worrying both their Democratic Party competition in November as well as some members of the Republican Party establishment.
Saturday's march for liberal principles was called 'One Nation'. Participant Lance Pyburn explained, saying "We have all these different people from all these different organizations coming out for this rally, and I think that it is really important for us to realize that we are one nation, we have one voice, and we just want really similar things to come about."
Protesters said they wanted an end to U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, more government spending on job creation programs, renewable energy initiatives and public education, a new immigration law and more extensive health care reform than what the Democrats have been able to pass.
Many wore tee-shirts of the unions they represented.
A retired automobile industry worker from Detroit, Al Glaeyck, said he has been trying to help Democratic candidates in the state of Michigan. "They are afraid. They think they are twenty points down. It will be an interesting thing to see but I think whoever wins, we fight on," he said.
Another protester, Kimberly Greene, had some advice for President Obama. "He is trying to be a centrist and make sure the Democrats and Republicans get along," she said. "But I mean when we have the Republicans opposing you on everything you do, and the Democrats are not really proving that people can depend on them, that is why people are running to the Tea Party and back to the Republicans. Basically, in a nutshell he needs to stand up to them and let people know, 'hey, I can run this country, you do not need the Tea Party.'"
Artist Gio Andollo sang peace songs under a tree as protesters filed by. He said he was neither a Republican, a Tea Party activist, nor a Democrat.
Andollo said he was looking forward to another rally at the end of October, this one called the 'Rally to Restore Sanity'. It is being organized by U.S. television comedian Jon Stewart, who says not just the loudest voices should be the ones being heard as the United States faces lingering war abroad and high unemployment and deficits at home.