Protests in America have a noble history. They serve to identify a social problem and awaken politicians and the general public to important issues and causes. Think of the civil rights protests led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Unfortunately, many of the protests today are counterproductive. They result in angry protesters crowding into the streets and end with lots of property damage. Think of the protests by leftists and anarchists against the WTO that ended in violent clashes with law enforcement and sometimes millions of dollars in property damage.
The post-election protests against Donald Trump look much more like the second example. There is lots of emotion, but very little concrete action that even sympathetic citizens could be encouraged to pursue. The last few weeks may just be a prelude to what might be unleashed on Washington, D.C. during the inauguration.
Carrie Lukas reminds us that many of these protests are merely “A March to Nowhere.” Student protests on campus and leftist protesters in the streets may bring some visibility to an issue, but otherwise they are counterproductive.
She cites the 2015 protests on the campus of the University of Missouri over the issue of race and various racial incidents. The protesters may have been successful in raising the issue and getting a few administrators to leave. But they didn’t win over the general population. A poll taken in Missouri after the protests found that “by a fairly wide margin, the state’s public does not view the University of Missouri’s recent protests and associated events very favorably.” Nearly two-thirds (62%) disagreed with the actions by the protesters. Put another way, the protesters might have won a battle but they lost the PR war because they were angry and unreasonable in their demands.
I suspect many Americans will look at these recent protests as merely childish temper tantrums. They may get some news coverage, but they won’t win over many hearts.