Artwork by Eli Cantor: Many Americans are voicing their discontent with the new President through protests.
In the wake of Trump’s victory, many conservatives have taken to social media to voice their complaints. Remembering how they were told to quietly accept Hillary’s assured win, Trump supporters have been lashing out at Democrats for hypocritically protesting Trump. A post I recently saw condemned liberal crybabies for not being able to accept defeat. It seems as if Hillary supporters are doing exactly what they told their opposition not to do. This isn’t the case.
Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. There is no way to change this. Protesting his policies and actions will not prevent Trump from entering the White House. The United States has a system in place to elect our president: The Electoral College. Whether or not you agree with how it is set up, Trump won fair and square. However, despite the perceived pointlessness of protesting, there is even more reason to do so now.
The right to protest is guaranteed to American citizens. In the First Amendment, it is referred to as the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Protesting has been used to great effect throughout the years, consistently facilitating change while remaining peaceful. Take the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, where marches and organized boycotts led to the end of segregation and ushered in a new era of tolerance. More recently, protests of the DAPL were successful in halting the development of the pipeline that would have disrupted the Sioux’s drinking water. Outside of the United States, Gandhi’s peaceful protest of the British led directly to India’s independence, and protesting in South Africa brought about the end of Apartheid. Peaceful protesting works, and given as it is a guaranteed right to Americans, no one should ever be denied their right to protest something.
Prior to Trump’s victory, Democrats spoke out against the possibility of conflict in the scenario where Trump lost. Given his history of inciting violence, it wasn’t hard to imagine a situation where Trump, refusing to accept the loss, stirred his followers into a dangerous frenzy. This was by no means a call for his followers not to protest; it was a plea for them not to resort to violence.
The reason for protesting Trump now is not to stop him from being president. That is already set in stone. The hope that is when he sees the millions of Americans who oppose many of his policies and actions, Trump will be forced to rethink some of them. Already, he has walked back many of his earlier statements on the climate and immigration, as well as backing off his threat that he’ll make sure Hillary ends up in prison. Whether this is an effect of the protests or a result of Trump’s inability to maintain consistent policies is anyone’s guess, but it’s a step in the right direction.
For someone who opposes Trump, the worst thing to do is nothing. In Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience,” he calls out those who don’t take action for what they believe in. Thoreau says, “I quarrel not with far-off foes, but with those who, near at home, cooperate with, and do the bidding of those far away, and without whom the latter would be harmless.” Trump’s supporters have their reasons to support him. He has promised to bring back jobs, and he represents a stark difference from the establishment symbol that is Hillary Clinton. I have no problem with someone who actively supports Trump. Like Thoreau, though, I do have a problem with people who vocally oppose Trump, yet sit idly by. Trump will be president, and this cannot be changed. However, his policies and actions as president still have yet to be decided, and with protesting there remains a way to affect how the next four years in this country will be.
By Henry Brody