We’ve had several days now of anti-Trump protests across the nation almost entirely in large cities (including Orlando) and college campuses. While frustration with the result of the 2016 Presidential Election is widespread among those of us who care about the general health and welfare of all Americans and the image of this nation abroad, the protests do not seem to be accomplishing a whole lot in terms of positive vibes going forward.
Almost all of the protesters have no connection to the institutions of the Democratic Party – a political party so tied to corporate interests that the fundamental issues that impact working families and young people were not addressed directly by the party’s presidential nominee. The Democratic nominee was so tied to these corporate interests that she was backed by many establishment Republicans, who proved outside the cocktail party circuit of Georgetown they have zero influence with the electorate.
These protests are coming at a time when national healing and reconciliation are necessary after the most divisive election of our lifetimes. Sure it wasn’t the 1864 Election where the future of the Republic hung on the result, but this wasn’t 1924 either when both parties essentially created such a consensus that liberal Republican Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin broke off and formed a third progressive party for more left-leaning voters in both parties to support (this left the Democrats with virtually zero support outside the south). The apex of American conservatism directly led the nation and entire global economy into the Great Depression.
This was an election that divided families and split urban areas and college campuses from the rest of the country. Senator John Edwards talked about two America’s just over a decade ago but his two America’s which does exist was based on lunch plate economic issues, the type that Democrats current brand of identity, corporate donor and pressure-group driven politics ignores. But Democrats can win the day by following the Edwards and more recently the Bernie Sanders playbook.
What the protests are serving to do is continue to divide America while cable news channels and social media feed the frenzy. They are protesting based on personality and not the social justice issues and economic equality issues that should motivate these sorts of mass gatherings. They are also thanks to timing might indirectly motivate increased hate crimes outside the big cities and college campuses. For the Democratic Party, the brand on a national level doesn’t want to be tied to the same sort generational misunderstanding as it was for some in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That generation ironically, the baby boomers ended up forming the bedrock of the Reagan Republican coalition and turned its backs on liberalism, the Great Society and New Deal, leaving the United States in pitiful condition when President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. The Great Recession was partly caused by economic mimicking of 1920s conservatism by those who had been liberals in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Americans need to start talking to one another and listening to other points of view. The protesters in Orlando need to be willing to speak to the small business owner down the road in Cocoa who supported Trump. The small business owner in Cocoa needs to be willing to engage in conversation the traveler from Fort Lauderdale passing through Cocoa on her way to the beaches near Daytona. It should be noted that both Cocoa and Daytona Beach are in the Orlando media market and that TV coverage of protests not only motivate progressives in Orange and Osceola Counties but could impact conservatives in Brevard and Volusia as well.
While the protests are almost entirely peaceful and the message sympathetic, the timing and mental fragility of the nation could lead to this being the spark on a more volatile situation. Similarly, conservative leaders need to publicly denounce the hate crimes that have already taken place since the election and could sweep the nation in the coming days and weeks. Both sides need to take a time out and listen to one another while the Democrats and progressives internally reform in order to live and fight another day.