The Protests and The First Amendment

I’m tired of talking about uneducated. Let’s talk about over-educated and under-informed. Those of us who went to college, know a lot of stuff, and yet remain largely uninformed on the key issues that shape our culture and thus government.

Today my thoughts are on the First Amendment, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This cherished amendment protects freedom of religion, free speech, free press, and right to peaceably assemble. Peaceably assemble. Non-violent protests. Ahimsa for my yogi friends.

Non-violent protests have a long-standing place in our nation’s history and in the course of world events. Women’s suffrage (right to vote) in the 1800s, Civil Rights in the 1960s, sit-ins against in the Vietnam War in the 1970s, flag-burning to demonstrate free-speech in the 1990s, and most recently marriage equality this decade.

When we look past the US, we see Gandhi’s non-violent leadership deliver India Independence from the British Raj, Nelson Mandela championing to end apartheid, and Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. There is tremendous power when people come together to communicate what they are for and demand their leadership not ignore them.

Whether you agree or not, or just want the noise to go away, there is a part of the population that wants and a by virtue of The Constitution is entitled for their voice to be heard. Protests in and of themselves don’t change policy. I do believe that they do bring awareness and pressure to legislators and representatives to address the concerns of their constituents – all constituents, not just the ones that voted a certain way.

My final two cents: It’s not about being a sore loser, though it may seem that way at first glance. It’s about making sure the key issues that are important to a large number of people stay on the table and aren’t lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.

3 thoughts on “The Protests and The First Amendment

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  1. “My final two cents: It’s not about being a sore loser, though it may seem that way at first glance. It’s about making sure the key issues that are important to a large number of people stay on the table and aren’t lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.”

    I get your point of view. I really do. You care a lot about the issues and want to make sure that those issues stay at the forefront of the conversation.

    Makes sense.

    In fact, even as someone on the other side of the table, I find it admirable in a way. Better than abject apathy, right?

    Here’s the thing, though. Your side lost. Badly.

    And when I say badly, I’m not talking about Trump winning enough electoral votes. I’m talking about the Democrats being defeated roundly at every level. Congress. Senate. Governorships. State legislatures.

    This election was a top to bottom disaster for the left. I don’t know of any way to spin it otherwise and still be in the realm of reasonable.

    The issues that you care so much about were pretty much resoundingly rejected.

    At this point, you should be thinking, “How can I convince more people that my take on issues is the correct one?”

    It seems to me like most of the people you need to convince are viewing the actions of the protesters as a temper tantrum. I get that you’re trying to make the point that that perception isn’t reality, but truthfully, I don’t think that anything is going to change that perception. When one’s side loses and then one complains about it, a significant segment of people are simply going to see the complaints as whining. That’s just human nature.

    Perhaps that perception should be considered when determining the best way to advance your cause?

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    1. Thanks for the comments. Perception is key to changing the conversation and enabling people to start to listen to each other. I think the “protest” culture right now is more venting than focused on a particular change… stay tuned for my next post on policies and priorities.

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