2005/01/20

Is Protesting Worth It?

With the second (first legitimate) Bush inauguration tomorrow, and all of the unavoidable protests, I have to ask myself, is protesting really worth it? All that standing out in the sun, walking on hot asphalt, being pushed around by smelly, hairy environmentalists, yelled at to chant "WHAT DO WE WANT? [insert cause X here] WHEN DO WE WANT IT? ...NOW!", being flipped off and cussed out by some angry white guy safely inside his SUV (arguably the most exciting part). It's a lot of work standing up for what you believe in, a lot of putting up with malarky you'd probably rather avoid by taking a nap. I don't think tomorrow will be any different.

It appears that many Democrats and liberals feel that Bush's victory in 2004 was stolen as well as his 2000 victory. While this isn't an opinion with which I agree, it's important to congratulate them for standing up for what they believe, even if that involves protesting in Washington almost three months after the election. The questions regarding voting fraud in a handful of states have not yet been settled in the minds of many. One group of such minded people is the Coalition Against Election Fraud. They are urging Senator Kerry to not "give up the fight" as it were, but as we all know he's unfortunately already done that. Thanks, Senator--although I didn't support you last election, I would think you'd have the courtesy enough to wait until all your supporters' votes are counted. Do you remember conceding while Ohio was still up in the air?

Here in San Diego, we've had an ongoing dispute between Mayor Dick Murphy and City Councilwoman Donna Frye. Frye is a Democratic write-in candidate whose legitimacy suffered blows from claims that she enrolled in the election too late and that voters who wrote her name on the ballot did not follow the proper guidelines. So now we have Mayor Murphy again, but unlike Kerry, Frye has not conceded the election yet. Good for her. I like that she's standing up not only for herself, but for the disenfranchised voters whose only fault was not properly filling in a bubble. Had they voted properly, she would now be our mayor and Murphy would simply be a blemish on the history books.

Is protesting still worth it? Do we get as much out of it as we did in the sixties? While some protests seem silly, to me anyway, protest is a key part of our government. If political elites are supposed to represent us, and they are, they have to hear our voices, be it through e-mail, letters to the editor, holding signs on the street corner, or engaging in a vigil outside a senator's home. Protesting's a lot of work and although it may seem unsuccessful at the moment (anti-war protests, anti-Bush protests, vote recount committees) we should consider the times when protesting has succeeded: Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to mind. While the ongoing protest for civil rights is not yet over, it is fair to say that those of us who believe everyone deserves equal opportunity at survival and happiness have made some ground.

I know it's cliche, but it really is true that we only get out of government what we put in. We're obligated to make a scene, to let politicians and our peers know how we feel. If we don't identify the problem, we--and the politicians--don't know it exists. Identifying the problem is the first step to improving the system.

9 Comments:

I see your points about protesting. I think all in all, protest is a vital component of democracies. When we elect someone, be it the local mayor, or some high-up in the gov person, our vote doesn't equate saying "everything that person stands for is exactly what I also stand for". (s)he is simply the one with the closest agenda to ours among the candidates.

In other words, I don't see why we should feel we are giving them a fell blessing to run the show the way they want, and because *WE* elected them, but should lump it and shut up. I hear a lot of this "election is over, get over it, let's unite" in the US at the moment. Why should the US citizens suddenly lose their rights to criticize the gov? Does Bush claim to be 100% perfect and whatever decision he makes will satisfy everyone?

Or is it a case those ppl are saying "doesn't matter what he decides, even if he's wrong, we must support him, cuz it's for the greater cause of a united America". if so, what a load of shit. Dissent, debate, balance of power, etc, is what makes a democracy work reasonably well. Not perfect, but till someone comes up with a magic replacement, we have to make do with it.

But when ppl start pushing the principle that because the winner represents more than half the population and therefore the other half should just shut up and accept everything, they're losing the plot. What they are advocating is not democracy, it's autocracy.

Regarding the practicalities of protests. Ha. Interesting points you make here, SB, speaking of *pointless* protests, versus ones that achieve results. I guess there is no magic recipe: most of the success will depend on the attendance to these protests by the ppl themselves. This in turn implies enough ppl are sufficiently pissed off and concerned to be willing to get down to the street. As you point out, it's work, it takes time, it's not fun, and you can get hurt as well.
1/20/2005 10:24:00 am  
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1/20/2005 12:15:00 pm  
Watching the news last night I see the Postal workers, National Railway Network, National Electric and Gas Grid, and hospital surgeons are all striking here in France. Thankfully, they all are assigned different days. You have to book in advance. LOL But, the interesting thing is these various strikes were attended to different degrees. The postal strike had very little following around 12% whereas the SNCF (railway) scored a much higher attendance rate (around 35%) and the result is the SNCF management is caving in and engaging negotiations.

Are protest useful? Yes!

"Why should the US citizens suddenly lose their rights to criticize the gov?"

If the 49% of Americans who didn't vote for George Bush were in the streets I dare say someone would be listening.
1/20/2005 12:24:00 pm  
It's definately worth it. This guy lives in a fish bowl where nothing he does, no event he participates in, in unplanned and uncoordinated. Everyone is pre-selected to make sure that they have his exact warped view on the world. He himself has made it clear that he doesn't read (be it newspapers or magazines or whatever. nice example to set for the kids btw) and he doesn't watch the news. Like John Stewart said "I doubt he even knows we're out here". Rove has probably told him he won 95% of the vote (100% would be unbelievable. even bush isn't that dumb) It will be worth it to finally let this man know that almost half us can't stand him. I wish I could be there to see the look on his face.
1/20/2005 01:56:00 pm  
I hear a lot of this "election is over, get over it, let's unite" in the US at the moment. Why should the US citizens suddenly lose their rights to criticize the gov? Does Bush claim to be 100% perfect and whatever decision he makes will satisfy everyone?No, no. My issue with people protesting about the election is that I think Bush won (relatively) fair and square. That is to say that I don't think he cheated enough to have a significant effect on the vote count. I think the problem lies with the 51% who voted for him. I do not think it's a good use of time for Democrats and Greens to be forming vote count coalitions for the presidential election. My local mayoral race is a different case though--the election is still widely disputed.

If the 49% of Americans who didn't vote for George Bush were in the streets I dare say someone would be listening.The problem is, that 47% of those people are apathetic and disorganized.

Angie, about the protests today, I don't think he's going to care. I think we're cutting him too short in the brain department to say he doesn't know that half the country does not support him. While he acts stupid, I don't know how truly stupid he is... for a chimp.


I hope I didn't come across as saying that protesting is not worth it; I meant to say that although it's a lot of work, it is worth it and we are obligated to do it if we expect to be fairly represented.
1/20/2005 03:44:00 pm  
oh no not at all starchybean. and, yes he probably does realize that almost half of us can't stand him, the sad part is, he will do nothing about it. he will continue to walk around like he actually got 95% of the vote because people keep reminding him that he got the largest percentage of votes ever. what they fail to remind him of after that, is that john kerry got the second largest amount of votes and that he won by the narrowist margin ever. there's a tblogger (a100wwe) who posted this morning that we must all support him no matter what. that we can disagree with him and not like what he does, but we must still support him. i completely disagree. it is our duty as americans to use the rights granted to us by our forefathers. to keep our government in check. they knew the presidency (and other elected offices)would fall into the hands of corrupt individuals and therefore made away for the citizens themselves to hold them accountable.
1/20/2005 04:29:00 pm  
"The problem is, that 47% of those people are apathetic and disorganized"You're probably quite right here. And perhaps another factor comes into it: like a friend of mine emailed me today, US citizens are not yet in enough of a bad shape to feel motivated to take to the street. The bulk of them still have their TV set and their 250 inane channels. She's afraid that only when a loaf of bread costs a month's wage will the US citizens wake up there is something really wrong and worth getting physical about.

"Angie, about the protests today, I don't think he's going to care"You're probably right again. Hey, he obviously doesn't care about anybody's opinion - he's demonstrated it many times. The only voice he hears is his direct line to the heavens.

So, what's the solution? Again, my NYC friend tells me in her email there is no way he's gonna be impeached cuz all the levels of gov are on his side and in his pocket. So what's a practical way to get rid of him - except for the obvious solution, LOL? (leave that sword alone, Angie, we're still talking at this stage)
1/20/2005 04:41:00 pm  
WhyNot,

About the being sedated by TVs, my pottery teacher and I agree... until people are forced to give up their shiny toasters and televisions, nothing's going to happen. People are too happy, too sedated, too comfortable to get out and protest.

Also, I don't know exactly what it is with conservatives, but it seems they're so much better organized than even the Democrats. Perhaps it's the militant inclinations and overzealous use of the right hemisphere of the brain, but over the last twenty years they've been effective at destroying the competition--Carter, Clinton's impeachment, Gore, Kerry... they've done a good job and should be congratulated for the overwhelming tenacity that they posess. It's just a shame the more progressive parties don't have the same cutthroat fighting styles (but perhaps that's what makes them different...)
1/20/2005 08:08:00 pm  
"i completely disagree. it is our duty as americans to use the rights granted to us by our forefathers. to keep our government in check.".

Absolutely, Angie. It is the duty of any citizen of any democracy. Like Trotsky said: "Permanent Revolution" - never take the status quo for granted, never cease to question our governments. They are not there by divine mandate, they are there because we elected them. It is their duty to be answerable to us, and it is our duty to demand to see the accounting books and scrutinize them. 

Posted by whynot
1/23/2005 07:31:00 am  

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