Ron Radosh

Why the Left Demonstrates

A protester kicks in the window of a Bank of America as people marched through the streets of Portland, Ore., on November 10, 2016.(Photo by Alex Milan Tracy)

What do the protestors want, and why are they marching? That question is as important as who is funding them, which Roger L. Simon has already addressed. As an American who values the  Bill of  Rights and believes firmly that freedom of speech guarantees the right to protest, I have serious questions and reservations about these ongoing demonstrations, especially those that have included violent actions. The latter should be called out, not only by Republicans and conservatives, but by all citizens including liberals and Democrats. Of course, they have mostly been silent about them, but it was not too long ago that their main concern was that Trump supporters would go berserk if he lost.

Today’s Washington Post has a report indicating that these mostly young protestors didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, and that they are at the protests for other reasons such as “meeting about the perils of capitalism.” They hold signs reading “Not my president,” “Viva La Raza,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “hella queer folks.” In other words, they are a bunch of young radicals, revolutionaries, and single-cause activists of the far left. Or as the reporter puts it, they seem “to gravitate toward far left politics.”

They claim that Donald J. Trump is not their president. I have news for all of them. Like it or not, he is — and he was legally elected. That Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than a million votes is irrelevant. Our system goes by the Electoral College, and every candidate knew that he or she had to win 270 of their votes to be elected commander-in-chief.

The goals of some of the organized demonstrations and rallies are diffuse, like the forthcoming Women’s March on Washington, whose official statement is posted on its Facebook page. This event is likely to produce one of the largest demonstrations ever held in our nation’s capital, and it will take place on Jan. 21st, one day after President Trump’s inauguration. They claim it is not an anti-Trump march, but according to organizer Bob Bland (who if you are wondering is a woman) “the march will be forward-looking and will serve to amplify the voices of women and minorities and to let the country know that those voices are united and strong.”

The left is preemptively opposing the Trump administration before it has even started.  They will have none of the advice of President Obama and Hillary Clinton to wait and see.  Obama has tried to calm the waters by announcing that Trump is, after all, a pragmatist.  But they are nervous, knowing that they would have had more leverage had the Democrats won either the Senate or House. However, the reality is that Democratic Party lost more seats than any time since the 1920s.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, now perhaps the most left-wing mayor of a major city, came out publicly for continuing protests. He stated, according to the New York Daily News, that “resistance is necessary, especially since Trump is likely to lose the popular vote — and therefore doesn’t have a mandate to rule.” Evidently the mayor of New York, like many protestors, believes Trump will be an illegitimate president.

So why are these protests, which have a slim chance of affecting policy, taking place? Anne Applebaum explores the reasons in a recent column. Using the example of protests against the Polish government which she witnessed, she notes that it is mainly because “protests makes people feel better.” They also make “middle-aged ex-radicals…feel energized and young again.” But she cautions that “protest, if not carefully targeted, achieves little,” and that they can “inspire conspiracy theorists.” Further, protests create a “disdain for politics,” and protesters can be dissuaded from trying to achieve the change they want through democratic politics.  In the U.S.A., she notes, five opposition senators could do more to stop measures of which they disapprove than even 50 million marchers.

The protesters are certain to be annoyed when they find that even Bernie Sanders told the Post that if Trump works for programs he deems reactionary, he will oppose him, but “if he brings forward an infrastructure program, which is something I’ve advocated for years, along with many others — it creates millions of jobs — will I be supportive? Yeah.” And Howard Dean said opposing Trump just because he’s president is “not good for the country.”

On the other hand, George Soros, who is pouring a fortune into groups that will oppose Trump, “believes Trump is a would-be dictator, adding that he was confident that America’s institutions would serve as a check on the new president’s power — as long as a vigorous opposition is in place to push back against his policies.”

Our nation, it seems, is not in for a peaceful four years.