The Limits of Protest
This is an excellent article and I would like to quote parts for emphasis:
Why Politicians Ignore the Protests
Politicians, especially those in high offices like the U.S. House of Representatives and above, have the ability to know who votes, who does not vote, who always votes Democrat, who always votes Republican, who always votes Third Party/write-in, and who is in the tiny minority “in play”–those whose swing vote might actually decide an election. It’s not an exact science, but the politicians can buy pretty good lists, they can develop the lists and make them better, and they can turn to other market research for even more information. Politicians respond only to the demands of key swing voters, and know that swing voters don’t go to mass demonstrations.
The anti-war demonstrations failed and continue to fail because every politician knows that among the anti-war demonstrators there are no votes in play. The marches are full of non-voters, third-party voters, and reliable Democrats. Nobody in any of those masses was going to vote Republican if their Democrat leaders didn’t do more to stop the war, and vice-versa for the anti-war conservatives: no libertarian was going to vote for Obama to stop McCain. Knowing that nobody would be sent home for voting for the latest $106 billion war supplemental, every Democrat did.
The politicians knew that none of the demonstrators’ votes were in play. Entirely for that reason, the politicians knew that they could ignore the demonstrators with impunity. And so they did.
The reaction to the new wave of demonstrations from the new minority will mirror what we saw four years ago. Knowing that nobody in these anti-tax, anti-Obama, anti-socialism demonstrations is going to vote Democrat to punish a Republican member of Congress for, say, voting for a new farm regulation, no politician will see the demonstrations as a political threat and feel compelled to react.
The Value of Demonstrations
When demonstrations appear successful by turnout but to no effect, demonstrators become alienated from the political process, and abandon standard grassroots politics for radical methods. Notice how Richard dismisses lobbying Congress out of hand, as if it’s no different from staging demonstrations? That error is the product of cynicism bred from failed effort.
This is not to say that demonstrations by themselves are always without value. At the state and local level, they can be great places to meet and interact with other activists. This is difficult to do with DC rallies, where even finding people in your state amongst the crowd can be difficult.
The political outcome will be the same whether or not you attend. The media coverage and punditry will be what they will be. Republican politicians will sympathize with the noble demonstrators; Democrats will label it a “right-wing” attack to firm up their opposition. The Washington March is a scripted event. The outcome is practically pre-determined; your presence is just one more tick on a tally. It may be a herd of cats, but it’s still a herd.
Is it all worth it? Maybe if you live nearby, but if you’re planning a trip, think how much energy is required. Say one coach bus, 55 people, spend two full days on a demonstration. 55 people with two full days could un-seat a mayor in a city of 100,000 if they spent that time canvassing their wards. In the sort of long, determined day you experience trekking to a demonstration, you work enough that for the effort you could have canvassed your entire precinct.
The Fruits of Local Effort
And for your work, you would have developed your voter list and your contact list for next time. More than a passing sense of achievement, but an asset you can put to use again and again. Instead of being a part of a herd, seen by all spectators as just another extra in the movie that is our political system, you would have made substantial progress in becoming a grassroots leader. You would have met people, in your very precinct, who feel the way you do. You would make friends, and you would be able to rally them to do join you in pressuring your politicians.
It’s engaging the middle margins that politicians fear. We deserve better than the political fate of the anti-war demonstrators, worked up into a mob and dispersed for later partisan assimilation. We can avoid this fate by rooting ourselves in our precincts and becoming grassroots leaders.
Unless you live in Maryland or Virginia, it may make more sense to dedicate yourselves to more local activism. If you can become a grassroots leader, and we as leaders work in a coordinated fashion, we will be able to manipulate our representatives in government. It does not matter if our representatives are not sincerely committed to Liberty–we can force them to vote for Liberty by making it the path of least resistance. That requires mobilization of voters, and the only way this essential task will be completed is if we start now.
The Revolution begins at home, and arrives in DC, not the other way around. You don’t need to travel to DC to make your voice heard. If you want to really upset the political establishment, become a grassroots leader.
[Headings & Emphasis Mine]
Read the article in its entirety here.