Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Protesting is our last front

By James Mazarakis

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(Erica Lowenkron/ Daily Collegian)

(Erica Lowenkron/ Daily Collegian)

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how a political revolution was “null and void” under a Donald Trump administration. After the Democrats lost the national election in a bitter struggle to keep their firewall and overpower the loss of protections under the Voting Rights Act, I began to hope I was wrong.

Not only did candidate Hillary Clinton lose to President-elect Trump, but the number of states controlled by a Democratic congress and governor has whittled down from a low seven to a lower five. It is estimated the GOP will control 69 out of 99 legislative chambers in the United States this January. To make things worse, nearly all the progressive leaders I mentioned in my previous article lost their respective elections.

But consider this: The American democratic system has failed the will of the people. Despite Clinton winning the popular vote, Trump won in an Electoral College landslide. Yet even among his own voters, Trump was always a “lesser of two evils.” He is distrusted by 65 percent of the public according to a CNN exit poll, bolstering the weakness of his mandate to govern.

The University of Massachusetts was quick to take to the streets. A number of protests broke out throughout the week and plans for more are underway. Some viewers are confounded that protesters are rejecting the results. “He won fair and square” is the counter-argument.

Perhaps. But there are more reasons to protest. For liberals and all others who oppose Trump, the people’s right to free speech is their last front. The majority of people who voted for Clinton are not represented in the government in any meaningful way. Instead, we are left with a government that caters to two minorities with similar goals: A part of the electorate that was exploited to arouse hate and xenophobia in America, and the super-wealthy corrupting forces that helped shape Trump and the members of his incoming cabinet.

Interestingly enough, despite the Democratic “civil war” that is happening behind keyboards and corporate news talk shows, the people are the ones leading the charge on the ground and are more united than ever. At Friday’s “Ignite Your Rights” protest on Goodell lawn, people of all cultures and all political grounds joined together, from the “Political Revolution” of Bernie Sanders to the Clinton Campaign to the LGBTQ+ movement to the Dakota Access Pipeline Water Protectors.

Many young people are united because our bleak future just got bleaker. Many of us have friends and family who are Muslim, of color or are undocumented immigrants. Many of us, myself included, are looking into a future career to save the environment and build a sustainable America. Most Millennials voted for Clinton because we did not want to risk those things.

But the election is over and our voices are irrelevant in the political process for at least two years. That is not pessimism, it is reality. That means we use it in the only way we have left; through protest, demonstrations and boycotts.

And what about the Democratic Party? It was a dysfunctional home for the many brands of liberals in the electorate – from Clinton to Sanders to Stein – and now it seems to be grasping at straws to return to politics as usual, looking to Howard Dean to return as DNC chair and floating Tim Kaine as its next hero for 2020. They are still trying not to splash the waters.

The ship has sailed for normal politics. Unless the Republicans turn on Trump, which is still a possibility, the Democrats are incapable of even impeachment. More power to whatever they can block or accomplish, but we cannot hope for much.

My suggestion for the Democrats is to drop everything and join us on the ground. After all, we are stronger together, the very slogan used in the Clinton campaign. The only functional opposition to Trump is that of the people. If our president-elect really threatens to deport millions of people in this country or intervene with the woman’s right to choose in the case of an abortion, it is up to the people to resist.

There will be opponents, so of course protests must remain peaceful to keep credibility. We must be vigilant and ensure that as few as possible are taking advantage of the protests as an excuse to be violent. And we must respect peaceful counter-protests as we respect our own.

But we can abide these rules and carry on the march. Because if you are upset about a Trump administration, upset about the future of your children, upset about the state of the environment, we will need a functional movement ready to respond to his actions.

Since my plan A is doomed, here is plan B. Protect each other, care for each other and build a coalition over the next four years that will kick Trump out of the White House. It will take time but I believe it is inevitable. It will be hard. It will look bleak. But if you rooted for Clinton to break the glass ceiling, if you yearn for the civility demonstrated by President Barack Obama or if you believed in Bernie to bring about a political revolution, the time is now to honor and defend the progress we’ve made. Come join us.

James Mazarakis is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Protesting is our last front”

  1. Letha Deck on November 15th, 2016 12:35 am

    Usually, here in the United States, after a President is elected, people don’t organize to unite to tear our nation apart. We usually follow Mrs. Clinton’s examples of sportsmanship in politics. Perhaps the administratiom should act aggressively to censor people that use their right to free speech to publish incendiary material designed to subvert the democracy that’s the foundation of civility. It is time to stop being sore losers. Maybe more time in the books would inform the UMass community of the moral high road they should be walking.

  2. David Hunt 1990 on November 23rd, 2016 7:04 am

    I haven’t seen Democrats this angry with Republicans since… well… since the Republicans freed the Democrats’ slaves.

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