I am no stranger to protesting, having marched so often in the sixties and seventies that I sometimes felt as if I were chanting “Hey, hey, LBJ” in my sleep. But I have come to think over the years that too much demonstrating can get to be a bad habit, like smoking.
Now I’m not talking here about the Gloria Steinems and Michael Moores, for whom protest is so much a way of life they couldn’t exist without it. Or the Madonnas who, like other entertainment stalwarts, have business reasons for constantly reminding us they are still have their “edge” even as they age, liberally dropping the f-bomb and speculating about bombing the White House in the process.
I’m talking about the rest of us, especially, this weekend, a fair percentage of the women of America who descended on our nation’s capital and elsewhere in impressive numbers.
Excuse me if I don’t get it. What exactly was motivating them?
Oh, right, Donald Trump, that vulgar misogynist who bragged about pu**y grabbing (asterisks to dissociate myself from Madonna, even though I’m aging too). I’m going to skip over the obvious – these same women almost all ignored Bill Clinton actually doing (not just mouthing off about) similar activities in the Oval Office, not to mention on numerous other occasions, some of which we know about and some of which we may not. Further, these women didn’t have much to say — no demonstrations, no marches, maybe a few hashtags — when radical Islamists of various stripes regularly kidnapped large numbers of women (Nigerians, Yazidis, Kurds, etc., etc.) from their homes and took them as sex slaves, often beheading them after they finished raping them. Nor did they even pipe up when honor killings were going on in their own backyard.
I could go on. But those are just, shall we say, a few of the minor inconsistencies mixed with, perhaps, a soupçon of cognitive dissonance. Something more must be motivating these hundreds of thousands of women.
Oh, yes, reproductive rights. Break out your clothes hangers. The Donald is going to bring back the era of backroom abortions
The idea that Trump, given his life and background, is a social conservative is almost silly. His primary issues were — need I reiterate what must be drilled in all our brains — bringing back jobs, lowering personal and corporate taxes, cutting excessive business and environmental regulations, ending illegal immigration, repealing and replacing Obamacare, rebuilding the military, extreme vetting of immigrants from countries where terrorism is prevalent, an America-first foreign policy (no nation building) and revived infrastructure.
On the campaign trail, the social issues were almost completely ignored. I listened to at least twenty of his speeches (probably a lot more) and can’t recall his mentioning same-sex marriage even once. (He was known to be favorable to it years before Obama and Hillary “evolved” on the issue.)
As for abortion, Donald has evolved toward being pro-life to some extent, but so have, apparently, a majority of Americans. They have shown this by their actions. According to a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate in America has decreased precipitously from 29.3 per 1000 women in 1980 to 14.6 in 2014. Whether this steep decline was caused by the advent of advanced sonograms making the emergent human being more visible and palpable in the womb or because of more accessible birth control (probably both), these facts-on-the-ground are far more important than any legislation or judicial ruling. Abortion is gradually disappearing as fewer and fewer want it. It’s hard to imagine Trump expending any political capital to speed up this process, assuming he wanted to and if it were even possible, both of which are highly unlikely.
So back to square one. What was the purpose of Saturday’s demonstrations? None, I think, meaning nothing substantive in the provable sense. They were propaganda. Basically the protests were media and social media ginned-up events intended to continue opposition to the myth, not the reality, of a Trump administration for political purposes. (Some were even claiming he was about to put people in concentration camps.)
The success of the demonstrations in terms of size attests to the power of mutually reinforced paranoia. This paranoia is of course magnified by the extraordinarily fractured nature of our society with almost everyone living inside their own echo chamber with fears building upon themselves, much in the manner of the Salem Witch Trials.
This makes demonstrations to a great degree pointless because the demonstrators make little attempt to reach out beyond the converted and convince their opponents of the rightness of their cause. If fact, they rarely even try. Instead, they parade their “rightness,” their superiority, to impress themselves, as did the myriad women in the pink pudenda beanies Saturday. They are mostly showing off.
Ironically, these women’s marches are strangely behind the times in today’s America and therefore largely irrelevant, though the participants may not realize or acknowledge it. More women have been going to college than men for several years and are just now surpassing them in law school as well. Hillary Clinton may have lost the election but women are well on track to win the war. Within a very few years, historically we may be living in a matriarchy of sorts. Instead of freaking out over an election, these women should relax and enjoy their coming power. It’s manifested all over the Trump administration already in the persons of Kellyanne Conway (she could run for president herself — and win) and Ivanka Trump (so could she).
Imagine Ivanka allowing her father to backpedal on abortion rights. Not happening.
Which leads me to a final point — people who demonstrate all the time should consider they risk morphing into a collective version of the boy who cried wolf. When there’s something really worth protesting, no one believes them anymore.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. Follow him on Twitter @rogerlsimon