Summary: America’s Left has suffered large defeats in US elections, but began a new era of public protests. Occupy Wall Street, Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, and others. Have they found the path back to political power, or have they turned onto a dead end road? Four more years of this and a Trump win in 2020 will provide the answer.
The New Left at work: blocking traffic as a protest tactic
“Protesters Chain Themselves to Upper Level of George Washington Bridge,
Blocking Traffic”, 16 October 2016.
The Left has found a new way to alienate millions. Not quite on the scale of idiocy as the 1960’s tactics of blowing up buildings and encouraging inner city people to burn down their neighborhoods — but still an impressively counter-productive way to recruit voters for Trump. The WaPo gives a typically one-sided look at the latest tactic of the Left, “Why highways have become the center of civil rights protest“.
“‘When people disrupt highways and streets, yes, it is about disrupting business as usual,’ said Charlene Carruthers, an activist in Chicago and the national director of Black Youth Project 100. ‘It’s also about giving a visual that folks are willing to put their bodies on the line to create the kind of world we want to live in.’
“…Researchers at the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University, in a forthcoming study, counted more than 1,400 protests in nearly 300 U.S. and international cities related to the Black Lives Matter movement from November 2014 through May 2015. Half or more of the protests in that time in Saint Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., wound up shutting down transportation infrastructure. ‘We systematically show that the political protest today is now almost totally focused on transportation systems, whether it’s a road, a bridge, in some cases a tunnel — rather than buildings,’ said Mitchell Moss, the director of the center and one of the authors of the study.
“what’s different today may be the occupation of urban interstates for the purpose of bringing them to a standstill. Protesters in Selma, Moss argues, wanted to use the Edmund Pettus Bridge — on their way to Montgomery — not block it.”
Some sane voices on the Left have spoken out against this madness. Such as Wes Messamore at the Independent Voters Project: “Let’s All Agree On This: Stop Blocking Traffic for Protests!“.
“There’s a lot that American voters may be divided over, but there’s one issue that hopefully we can all get together on and embrace a nonpartisan, obvious, and sane position. Demonstrators who have been blocking traffic on streets and highways as part of your protests: please stop! Stop the madness now.
…Even when traffic obstruction doesn’t have dangerous or deadly results, it is so aimlessly destructive of people’s time and interests, so incredibly inconsiderate of other people who might even be on the same side of a political issue as the protesters. The road is not an appropriate place to protest elections and policies. People don’t drive on roads for a political purpose. When most of these protests happened, most of the people on the road were just trying to get home and be with their loved ones.
What’s happening with protests?
I wonder if American’s have lost their tolerance for mobs chanting in the street. Rather than gaining public support for an issue, protests might alienate the public. See the ease with which the government gained support for the brutal crackdowns on the Occupy camps. I don’t know why this has happened. The Left’s widespread speech suppression on US colleges — restricting conservatives’ freedom to protest, even speak (one of countless examples here) — makes their own use of mass protests look hypocritical.
Our increased tolerance for government surveillance might indicate a growing loss of support for basic civil liberties. The war on drugs has massively eroded civil liberties. The war on terror began a second stage of erosion, as tools developed for overseas use — or for use against domestic terrorists — become “normalized” and routinely used. For example, the Patriot Act allowed Federal agents to burglarize homes — quietly break in and steal whatever they believe might be evidence. They call these black bag operations “sneak and peaks“.
The next phase of mass protests: not just suppression, but prohibition
Expect to see more of these, as reported by the Detroit News.
“Republicans in the Michigan House voted late Wednesday to make it easier for courts to shut down ‘mass picketing’ demonstrations and fine protesters who block entrances to businesses, private residences or roadways. Under the legislation, which Democrats decried as unconstitutional prior to the 57-50 vote, individuals who return to a disruptive demonstration already blocked by a court could face fines of up to $1,000 a day. Unions or other organizing groups could be fined up to $10,000 each day.
“Michigan law already prohibits certain forms of mass picketing, but sponsoring Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, said a spate of recent incidents make it apparent that ‘the current penalties are not sufficient to deter already-illegal activity.’”
Protest in Iran’s 2009 “green revolution“. They failed.
The future of protests
Protests probably still have a role in building mass movements, if done with skill and discipline. That means forsaking the trendy leaderless style — and cosplay. Or perhaps protests no longer work, replaced by sophisticated modern marketing methods and social media.
What about the recent protests?
The protests at police killings — in Ferguson, by Black Lives Matter, have had little visible political effect. Ditto for the Occupy protests. Large resources concentrated on a small area can have a useful effect — as at Standing Rick. But I doubt this will have any substantial effect on either public opinion or US policy. If so, it will have burned scarce resources on the Left for little gain. The Right has already developed an effective response: privatizing Indian land.
A small example of the Left’s bizarre thinking
See this advice from the Left about how to use babies as props in your protests still & keep them safe! Next, a look at the Left’s use of tactic that alienates millions of people, fast and easy.
“Even Little Kids Are Protesting Trump” by Maria Luisa Tucker at AlterNet.
“Here’s How to Keep Them Safe on the Frontlines.
Activist moms explain how to protest with your babies in tow.”
No, the babies are not “protesting Trump”. The article opens with a moment of good sense, and then goes bonkers.
“Martha, a Brooklyn mom and activist, wants to take her 16-month-old daughter to the Women’s March on Washington on January 21 , but her husband doesn’t like the idea. ‘He worries that my daughter could get hurt in some way: tear gas, overcrowding, etc. and that we could never forgive ourselves if something unexpected happened,’ she says. ‘I understand his point, and honestly, it makes me feel like a bad mom for wanting to go.’
…”It’s also a teaching opportunity for parents and their kids. Sarah DiGregorio, a Brooklyn cookbook author, will be bringing her 2-year-old daughter to the D.C. march. “I want to instill in her the idea that it’s important to speak up and organize, that she shouldn’t shrink from those things.”
Good luck teaching her two-year old daughter about the importance of protesting!
For More Information
Posts about OWS and the Tea Party: Why OWS was another futile peasants’ protest. Lessons from the failure of OWS, and its lasting legacy. OWS & the Tea Party are alike, both trying to save America through cosplay. How do protests like the TP and OWS differ from effective political action?
About the mechanics of protests
- Why America has militarized its police and crushes protests.
- Why don’t political protests work? What are the larger lessons from our repeated failures?
- Martin Luther King Jr’s advice to us about using violence to reform America.
- Thoreau reminds us about one of the few tools we have to control the government — About civil disobedience.