A Rally Good Protest
I've been fascinated by the protests that have sprung up around the country, They've been somewhat odd, though, as my pal Mark Evanier wrote here, noting that protest marches are usually about wanting to make a change and accomplish something different. But that's not the case the past two days, and these don't seem to have any such goal. They're certainly not gong to change the results of the election.
As I've watched, though, I do think there is a point to the protests.
On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Wednesday night, one of his guests was a very blunt, eloquent and clearly furious Tavis Smiley The point Mr. Smiley made was that after most presidential elections things get "normalized." The past is over and now we all unite as One People. Life becomes normal once more. But he felt it deeply important that we not normalize this election, that we don't brush under the rug all the things Donald Trump actually said and did during the 18 months he ran his campaign. Demeaning Mexicans, damning everyone of the Muslim faith, trashing a Gold Star family, trashing John McCain's heroism while a prisoner of war, talking about having sexually abused women, ridiculing a reporter with a physical disability, stirring threats of violence aginst the press, offering to pay the legal costs if his supporters beat up any protesters, constantly calling his opponent crooked, promising to toss her in prison, grinning as his audiences chanted "Lock her up" and more. Far more.
That's what the protests are trying to address, I think. To make sure people keep all of this in mind and not sweep it under a normalized rug. Donald Trump got away with an unearthly amount of despicable actions during the campaign, and did so largely because they were poured one on another, and so short-term memory loss kicked in and so much of the public only remembered the most recent outrage. The protests were largely against forgetfulness -- an odd goal, but a noble one. Keeping front and center what Donald Trump did and who he is. And protesting that that should ever been seen as normal.
Already, I've read several stories -- and one is far too many -- of people screaming at others who from different minority groups to leave this country, in one case shouting that this was "Trump Land." It's an insidious, sickening attitude, and to a degree the protests are also against such an attitude believing it has a mainstream voice, before it has a chance to take root and solidify itself. A reminder that the land we live in is the one where Hillary Clinton actually got the majority of votes cast on Tuesday.
Perhaps the media calling them "protest marches" was the wrong term. They were perhaps more a case of rallies of support for the loyal opposition to come, venting outrage at the assault on democratic institutions, the election process and decency, and mobilizing voices to fight on.
11/11/2016 04:40:09 pm
I'm retired now, but I was working in Oakland during the Oscar Grant and Occupy protests. I agree with what you are saying, but I would point out that a lot of the bad things you are seeing, such as vandalism and looting, are being done by a specific group of people. They call themselves "anarchists" and my guess is that they didn't vote and don't care about the election results. They are happy enough about "Trump" giving them the opportunity to destroy stuff. Most don't even live in Oakland and don't have to live in the mess they made. They end up destroying the reputation and legitimacy of the cause the usurp. I heard from a guy in Portland that they had done the same thing there. I think the Trump protests were pretty spontaneous, but to the extent that they are organized I think it behooves the organizers to weed out the troublemakers and point them out to the police when necessary. I think it probably goes against the grain to do something like that but it is definitely a "bad apple spoiling the bunch" situation.
11/11/2016 06:32:10 pm
Robert, thanks for your thoughtful note. I'm not aware of all that much vandalism, but if you are, I understand. I agree that is quite hurts the issue. I'm not sure how one does weed out such things are such a large endeavor. And given the point of the rallies and overall impact, I suspect it won't deter those protesting from continuing.
11/11/2016 08:30:08 pm
I apologise for not providing links. Here are a couple:
11/11/2016 05:01:06 pm
As a Hillary voter my biggest problem with these protest marches (or whatever you want to call them) is a frustration that these same, clearly passionate people didn't mobilize with this same energy and dedication in a constructive BEFORE the election when they could have rallied support for Trump's opponent to actually, you know, prevent him from becoming president in the first place.
11/11/2016 06:34:43 pm
Daniel, thanks for your note. In fairness, there *were* protests at Trump rallies. No, they weren't marches, though were more direct. Not as large as these, but then I think the issue -- unfortunately after the fact -- has been ratcheted up as more problematic. And better late than never.
11/12/2016 12:02:54 am
Daniel's point may have been (and if not, mine is) that perhaps if more of these protesters had voted, and voted for Clinton, there would be nothing to protest...
11/12/2016 12:11:14 am
Unless there is any evidence that some, many or any of the protesters didn't vote, my guess would be that more of them did (if not all) compared to the general populace.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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