Some of us remember the antiwar demonstrations beginning in 1969, the civil rights demonstrations leading to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or The Tea Party demonstrations against ever increasing taxes of recent times.
Recently we see demonstrations in opposition to President Donald Trump, by those who object to the dismantling of healthcare, oppose the wall proposed by the President, or take exception to a the idea of roughing up the opposition for speaking out, or are against encouraging police officers to rough up those taken into custody, or for being a little too friendly with those found to interfere with our elections.
Are these demonstrations effective?
Today President Trump will be holding a rally in West Virginia. Thanks to living in Appalachia for the last seven years, I know many people on both sides. An interesting idea for protest was posed, to buy two tickets to the rally, and then don’t show up, denying the President an audience. To my friends who are supporters, don’t worry. There are plenty of people who want into the rally, and if you are one of the lucky ones, you may just get one of those seats. Their will be a full audience for the rally.
My readers, and my friends, all know where I stand politically. My sympathies are with those who stand in opposition to many of President Trump’s policies. At the same time, I long for a way to get the parties to work together. I wrote letters to all of my Ohio representatives, about healthcare, and got a very thoughtful response from Ohio Senator Rob Portman. The other response I received was full of Republican talking points, and not at all persuasive, nor appreciated.
Being a child of the sixties who wore a black protest ribbon against the Vietnam War, while dating a Marine, I love a good protest. So what protest are my West Virginia friends plotting? A party! A party with banners of inclusion, food collection for the hungry, a positive demonstration with a lot of flag waving, and music. No chaos, no shouting, no fighting with the opposition.
Will the proposed, positive protest be an agent of change? Will it result in Republicans and Democrats coming together to debate civilly? Will it result in an America that is neither red nor blue, but instead purple? Purple combines both colors, and would result in cooperation and compromise. Perhaps the results would be better than either party could force through on its own, and last more than one election cycle.
The question is how to have a protest that makes this desire clear to our elected representatives. The Antiwar sit-ins I participated in had a clear statement to stop the Vietnam war. Civil rights demonstrations were aimed at ending separation policies between whites and blacks, no more sitting at the back of the bus, separate wash rooms, separate schools, and discrimination against voters. Most recently the Tea Party showed themselves to be a force in elections, even attaining office, in its fight against the expanding reach of government, and the taxation that comes with that reach.
Senator Portman is a person I would recommend as a thoughtful leader who is aware of the concerns of both sides. He is the kind of person we should all be voting for. I can see the other side, when slogans are dropped. Maybe there is a way to appease both sides. Maybe my friends in West Virginia should sign up voters who, like them, are looking for leaders who will work for all of us, rather than their party.
For the next election I will be voting in Pennsylvania. I’ve already registered.