The Chicago Socialist Party decides to celebrate Bastille Day—the holiday in commemoration of France’s becoming a democratic republic—with, what else, drinking, this time at Western Avenue’s Quencher’s Saloon.
“The thing is, because it lead to the great French revolution, which abolished the monarchy and got rid of the aristocrats and overthrew the old order and all that sorta thing, it’s sorta become and international symbol [of Democracy] for a lot of people,” says Dr. Bill Pelz, a teacher of comparative government at Elgin Community College, and secretary/treasurer of the CSP. The CSP is an eclectic group that spans the generations, and includes everyone from doctors to veterans that share a common left-wing view. Far from being the typical liberal Bush bashers, they are critical of the Democratic party for being too similar to Republicans. “You get disillusioned with the Democrats,” says Pelz, who has been with the CSP for almost ten years now. “They’re good on rhetoric in election years, but they wind up getting the same campaign contributions from the same corporations, more or less, as the Republicans.”
Members of the CSP gather in small groups to discuss the issues while sipping imported beer and listening to live free-style jazz performed by some of their own. To prove the CSP is not without a sense of humor, they hand out stickers that read “Tax the Rich not Beer.” “We’re just here to be with like-minded people,” says Michael, a young CSP member and ex-marine. “To spread knowledge, to converse, just to have a good time.” (Reilly Nelson)