Protests & Petitions

I’ve heard something like “Not My President” before.  Slogans were more direct in the ’70s:  “Impeach Nixon!”

It’s been years since I attended a protest or political rally, but the photos of then and now are similar.  These days I prefer signing petitions and sending letters to senators and representatives.  Still, I’m glad to see the protesters doing their job.

My assumption from reading the news was that the young wouldn’t step up, and, indeed, it was hard to get the Millennial vote out. In an  All Things Considered story,  “Young Voters In Pennsylvania Weigh In On Why Clinton Failed To Win State,”  a student at Lafayette College admitted he hadn’t even registered to vote. “It was more of a lazy thing, and I didn’t really like either candidates. And I should have upheld my civic duty, but I didn’t. So I kind of regret it now.”

And so we urge everybody to get ready NOW for the midterm elections. (Register to vote.)  And you might want to visit Bernie Sanders’s Our Revolution website to find out what the progressives are up to or  sign this petition at to abolish the electoral college.  

Protest if and where you will. There have been peaceful protests in front of Trump Tower in New York and Chicago:  I love the photo below of bicyclists protesting at Trump Tower in Chicago.

Bicyclists protest Trump Tower in Chicago, Nov. 18

And even I may turn out for a protest on Inauguration Day.  The big one will be in Washington, D.C., but it’s a big country, and you can find one in your own town.

Some protests are taking strange forms, though, and indeed I thought a theatrical political intervention well-intentioned but inappropriate.  When vice-president-elect Pence attended Hamilton on Friday night,  the actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, addressed a few remarks directly to Pence at the end of the play. It was a lovely, short, polite statement, co-written by written by the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, director, Thomas Kail, and the lead producer, Jeffrey Seller, with input from cast members.  An excerpt:

“We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.  We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

Who couldn’t love it?  Very sweet.  But I have my doubts:  was it necessary?  Doesn’t the play say all that better?  And then  Trump went nuts on Twitter and demanded an apology for Pence, who said he wasn’t offended and didn’t want an apology.  Thank goodness!

Trump is “not my president,” as the kids say.  I am a Bernie Sanders supporter who voted for Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote in the election.   But unless Trump goes to jail for fraud, he WILL be OUR president, so “not my president” is a technicality.  And that’s why progressives must seriously organize, figuring out how to reach all age groups with the Democratic party issues that are helpful to all classes (I still can’t believe the white male vote went for Trump!) and to find candidates who can inspire them.

At times like this we turn to Obama, who can give Trump, protesters, and everybody a few tips.

According to  Politico, Obama said at a news conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last Thursday:

“I’ve been the subject of protests during the course of my eight years.  And I suspect that there’s not a president in our history that hasn’t been subject to these protests. So, I would not advise people who feel strongly or who are concerned about some of the issues that have been raised during the course of the campaign, I wouldn’t advise them to be silent.”