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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Day After The People Strike Back

Whatever we want to call the election, the Women's March On Washington, and on other cities, was the people striking back. Not that this March was above criticism, it wasn't. The prohibiting of pro-life groups from participating as groups was wrong and shortsighted even though it was also understandable. It showed an example of how leaders often do not want their members to associate and find common ground with those from different groups. When their people do that, then the leaders lose control. 

As a pro-lifer, I was more than happy to join the March. Why? It was because I agreed with all but one of the positions taken by those organizing the March (click here for those positions). Thus, I saw no need to keep myself from celebrating what I had in common with those orchestrating and those participating in the March.  In addition, it was very refreshing to see that many people, I went to the NYC March,  joining together in a family safe environment with hundreds of thousands of people. In addition, the relationship between the police and the protesters was friendly and positive--something I always appreciate.

Trump moderated his usual response to criticism in how he responded to the March. He knew that the March was a rejection of his Presidency. But he also probably realized that too negative a response would only inspire more participation in the future. So he asked why those who marched didn't vote. His question was based on a false assumption. But then he acknowledged that protesting was part of Democracy.

The real question after the March becomes this: Where do we go from here? The people I spoke with at the March and afterwards were unanimous in saying that we have to march again. But they were also unanimous in saying something else that was contradicted by some of the chants heard at the March. Our target should not be Trump. Our target should be those conservatives who supported him. But how should we target those conservatives? We should make it our aim to persuade them. That is we should talk with them with the hopes of at least partially changing their minds.

To accomplish our goal, we can't afford to practice the same old self-isolation within the comfortable surroundings of our ideological ghettos. We need to meet people where they are, listen to them, try to identify common concerns, and then share what we believe is right as we allow them to do the same. This is part of what democracy looks like.

I know that there are some on the Left who abstained from the protest because it was a liberal Democratic Party event. This, again, follows the same  tactics of self-isolation that leaders of many groups hope for. This staying within our ideological ghettos adds to the problem our nation has with tribalism. With tribalism,  we only listen to accepted authority figures who give us the party line. We are taught to show antagonism toward those with different views. And we are taught to become highly offended when others reject what our own group has to say. Thus, because of tribalism, we are always at each others' throats because we are competing to conquer.

But, at the same time, what tribalism also does is to become Democracy's auto-immune disease. This constant infighting and attempts to conquer rather than to share and collaborate is what is destroying our Democracy. Thus, it seems that we don't need Russia's help to destroy our democracy.


Where do we go from here? On a personal level, we should listen and talk to people from other groups. We must try to find common ground which is more easily done when identifying problems than when proposing solutions. Then perhaps we should consider hybrid solutions that combine the ideas of different groups rather than forcing the will of our own group on others.

On an activist level, we need to march again and we must try to do so in greater numbers. Sporadic marches, regardless of their sizes, accomplish nothing. Constant marches of significant size puts pressure on our elected officials. Constant marches force our elected officials to listen and even moderate their tone and work. And these marches must be inclusive rather than exclusive.

That is where we go from here. Should we sit back and be content with and proud of a single march, we will find that we have accomplished nothing except to give ourselves a brief moment in the sun.



 

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