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Death of the American protest

Protesters march against President Trump Photo credit: Isaac Ramsour

2017 is one of the most politicized years in recent history, yet protest, one of the quintessential forms of American political participation, has shown to be utterly ineffective.

Obviously, this wasn’t always the case. Children are raised in the United States with stories of the Boston Tea Party, the March on Washington and Women’s Suffrage. There has been a myriad of successful protest movements that have fundamentally changed the fabric of our society.

Yet in the last few years our voices are somehow deafened, which lays in stark contrast to the sheer amount and size of recent rallies.

The Independent reports that the Women’s March of 2017 was the largest single day of protest in the history of this country. Nonetheless, there remains no great cultural shift or change in government policy.

It would be extremely naïve to assume that the Women’s March would immediately change everything, but one could at least reasonably hope for some small evolution. The largest single day of protest was eight months ago, and still we have no answer to the institutional misogyny so many stood up against.

Even within Chico, local activism has been largely unsuccessful. As KRCR reports, there was a substantial protest on April 17 at Representative Doug LaMalfa’s town hall meeting. The protesters gathered in response to perceived police brutality and police response to mental illness after the fatal police shooting of Desmond Phillips.

As the City of Chico Proposed Budget for 2017-2018 shows, substantial money and attention has gone to the Police Department recently, to the tune of over $24 million, or 27.6 percent of total expenditures, the largest of any single department. However, there are no mentions of related change in policy or answers to citizens’ concerns in the Chico Police press release website.

Sadly, a lack of response is not the worst possible outcome to a rally. The Charlottesville protests resulted in the death of three people, one death being the result of an immeasurably cruel act of personal violence by a white nationalist.

Our government seems to be largely indifferent to the voices of their people over the last year, or at least indifferent to protest. If protest is less effective, there are few actions that people can take a force change in a system that is stymied in institutional madness.

There is no clear answer yet, but if there was ever a time that this task could be met, it is now. The American dream itself is defined by the ability to change and meet any challenge, and this newest generation is defined by its creativity, its capability, and its concern for the future of America.

Our culture and our technology is developing so quickly, it is difficult to believe our ability to create significant social change will remain so weak. Somehow we will find a way to simply shout louder.

Grayson Boyer can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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