Here's Why Protesting Works

Recently there was a discussion in our chat group about the 2016 Black Lives Matter protestors protestors blocking a Gay Pride celebration in Canada. The prevented the Pride march from starting until their demands, which were to prevent the police from marching, were met.

In the US we have a Republican Democracy in which we elect our representatives individually and then we have the choice to contact the people we elect to make requests. We can ask them to vote yay or nay on a bill, we can ask them to write or sponsor a bill. They are supposed to listen to the majority of the constituents who request the same thing.

When our leaders don't affect the change we want, then we have the right to protest. The protest demonstrates our dislike. Protesting is a tool to bring awareness to those who don't know about a problem or for many to unite into one voice to say enough is enough. Sometimes the protesting is a small picket line, sometimes it's a rally, and then every generation or so you have a protests en masse.

Some people join the protests and some people just ignore it until it goes away. But what if it doesn't go away? In my view, the protesting doesn't work unless enough people are inconvenienced to the point that many of them turn to leadership and start demanding that the the problem be fixed. That's the point when leadership starts to listen and take action. If leadership doesn't take action, then that's when a democracy turns into a dictatorship.

I had to confer with my husband this morning about this topic. He has a Ph.D. in American Politics. He explained to me that the American system of government (elections of individuals and then our ability to contact those individuals) was new when the country was founded, and other countries attempted to copy it. Now 244 years later the US is the only country still using this Republican Democracy method because it failed elsewhere else. We hear about these flaws all the time, and I don't know enough about the inner working of our government to even suggest how to fix it.

During last 11 years of traveling to Europe I have learned that many countries have the right to protest. In France we don't have the ability to send an email to our elected officials. The French way of affecting change in policy is actually to go out and protest. The bigger the protest the more the elected party will listen. When France declared their lockdown for COVID-19 they told everyone to stay at home unless you are shopping for essentials or unless you are participating in a protest. They actually elect entire parties over there to replace everyone all at once, they don't elect individuals.

The most successful recent French protest was by a group called the Yellow Jackets (Gilets Jaunes). The party in power tried to reform the retirement age and retirement benefits. This protesting movement was massive. It lasted for more than a year with daily protests and then large crowds during the weekend. The protests disrupted retail business, tourism, public transport, and a lot more. The party listened and they have since "stalled" the vote on the retirement reform bill.

Bottom line is that protest are a good tool for citizens of every country to use, but the goal of the protests are never guaranteed to be reached unless enough people are inconvenienced. Before protests became a right, our ancestors would fear for their lives if they ever spoke out against rulers. Eventually revolutions happened to overthrow those rulers. Perhaps the modern day rioting falls somewhere in between protesting and revolution, although currently it does seem like the riots are caused by criminal opportunists.

One last comment about your rights... they only go as far as the tip of your nose. Keep in mind that celebrating your rights is only legal as long as you are not putting someone else in danger. When perceived danger or harm of other people or property exists, your rights don't apply.

Matt Redding
HLP Alpha

AT: 06/05/2020 02:09:06 AM   LINK TO THIS ENTRY

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