Stop These Protests

After the shocking Trump victory in the presidential election, we have seen Portland go up in flames, or rather, graffiti, along with the rest of the country. The protests, while making a strong point, are virtually worthless in any intention other than stirring up trouble.

Trump won the election. We may like it, we may not, but the facts remain. Obviously, many Americans are distraught. The reactions are visceral in our polarized country.

“Moderate” and “peaceful” are not words capable of describing the state of the country right now. It is either heavily right winged or heavily left winged, and a middle ground is rare and hard to find. We witnessed the villainization of anyone on the opposite side of the spectrum throughout the campaign. It’s ludicrous to think an election isn’t based on who is the best and most qualified, but instead on who isn’t the worst.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making your voice heard through protests- they’re a key part of our democracy and are the right of every American.

But there is no large and immediate change that can come from protesting. Because Trump has not yet acted in office, the only thing that is actually being protested is the way the country voted, and in all truth, it seems pretty hypocritical to be protesting the system of democracy that gave you the right to protest in the first place.

There are many ways to make a statement that aren’t open invitations for anarchy and vandalization. Wearing safety pins on clothing is a popular example. No harm can come of it (assuming the safety pin is wielded correctly) and it gets the #notmypresident point across clearly.   

More important than the repercussions of the protests are the messages they send. The violent nature of the demonstrations last month did not say, “We stand with people who feel victimized by Trump.” It didn’t say, “We disagree with Trump’s politics.” The message was clear, “We are angry and unwilling to compromise.”

When a new President is elected, it should be a time of joy in our country. It should be a time when we are grateful for our democracy, a time to say, “Hey, I may not agree with the new president-elect on many issues, but you never know what the future could hold. He could be an amazing leader!”

By being contentious and stubborn, we are becoming quickly disconnected as a country. Democratic liberals will look at the protests and finally feel represented, while conservative republicans will look at them with dismay and feel as though they are not allowed to be proud of their vote. And in turn the liberals will be smug to the hurt conservatives, and the conservatives will be spiteful back. It’s a vicious cycle.

There is a difference between making your voice heard and perpetuating the tensions that are already so high. The protests we have seen in our city are not respectful, and they are not productive. What would be helpful?

Local elections are in 2018, only two years away. Why not prepare for those? The effects of those elections will likely have a larger impact on day-to-day lives than the presidency. Learning and participating in these elections is a wonderful way to make a difference that doesn’t hurt anyone.

How about coming together as a country? How about having an, “I disagree with you, but I respect you” mentality? What if we collectively discussed what proactive measures could be taken to pave a path for an excellent presidency?

There is so much fear and hurt between people right now, and it’s true that much of it is due to Trump and the controversial (at best) things he has said. But we cannot let the hurt and the fear be in charge. The answers to the questions facing our country are not simple ones, and everyone interprets them differently. But pointing fingers and throwing hissy fits don’t answer the question, nor do they help find common ground.

Protests are a part of what makes our country amazing and what keeps us free. However we have to ask ourselves: what are we protesting and why? Are we trying to voice our opinions and make a change for the better, or are we venting our frustrations to whoever will listen and pointing fingers at whoever disagrees?

The biggest takeaway isn’t about action, but the guidance thereof. Don’t let anger and frustration be the guiding force of your decision making. Let patriotism and passion take charge. Instead of keeping us stuck in a chaotic mess, use a mixture of those positive emotions and creativity to propel us forward as a country.

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