We all know by now what happened on Friday, March 11, 2016, in Chicago at a Trump rally. A highly organized effort by MoveOn, acting through and with a few other grassroots organizations, shut down the rally by swarming it with anti-Trump people, the majority of whom appeared to have been Bernie supporters, whose purpose was essentially to shout Trump off the stage and prevent him from speaking, which raised protest to the level of direct street conflict and violence.
Let me play that tape back. A candidate now widely recognized as having a strong constituency was prevented from meeting with that constituency because another group of voters do not believe he should be allowed to run for the Presidency.
This occurred at an institution of higher learning, the University of Illinois at Chicago, or UIC, where the ideal of an intellectual exchange of ideas is a principle value and usually held above all other values. But here we have a group of people who would like to prevent Trump’s views from being heard, largely because they are perceived as racist and xenophobic, that provoke hate and violence. Should we call this a self-fulfilling prophesy? MoveOn in fact hosted a petition asking the university to bar Trump from speaking there, and when that was not successful, mooved on to more drastic measures.
It is curious to me how many people equate protest with democracy. When you can protest, THAT’S called democracy. But no it isn’t. Protest is a liberty which has been won through the existence of democratic process and the right of people to express their opinions through the ballot box.
Protest itself tends to crop up where democracy has failed. When the people say, No More War, and the government continues to send troops to foreign countries, the function of protest is obviously quite legitimate. But protesting against an actual candidate for president and preventing him from exercising his presumptive right to run for office takes on an entirely different color.
It appears that democracy is fine until someone appears to be winning whom we don’t like. When protest is used to shut down components of democratic process, such as holding meetings in order to present one’s views, democracy has been stood on its ear, and protest is no longer protest but a use of force to prohibit the exercise of constitutional rights. Mob rule becomes a substitute for majority rule. The loudest voice in the room attempts to dominate discourse, shutting out those whose opinions differ.
I don’t agree with this entire proposition. In a democracy, the choice is supposed to be at the ballot box, not in the streets. Interfering with candidates and their ability to get their message out is a direct interference in the election process and in my opinion a clear violation of constitutional rights. Trump’s views and attitudes certainly stand for themselves. Bigotry, or an intolerance for the views of others, is not defeated with bigotry, however. The entire purpose of the democratic structure, however limited it is, is to preserve peace while sorting out our differences through dialogue and civil process without ugly confrontation, injury and death.
It appears that some would prefer to circumvent that process. It appears that ugly confrontation and even injury are preferred to voting itself. Attempts to prevent Trump from being a viable candidate and expressing his views diverts attention away from the fundamental issues at stake, and makes the co-opting of that platform central to the discussion.
Protesters say that in a democracy they have a right to be heard. After all, Trump is getting his voice heard. Why can’t they? I can hardly agree that shutting down, or shouting down, someone else’s free speech is free speech. We might as well approve of Erdogan’s recent shutdown of an opposition newspaper.
Protest by voting for someone different. If democracy isn’t working out for you, then it calls for a different strategy, which I have long believed in, anyway. Let’s get rid of democracy or give it exclusively to Sanders supporters. Right? To hell with anyone else.
But this is not just show business. Think Ukraine and George Soros, the National Endowment for Democracy and other actors in that little play. What we have here has all the markings of something quite similar.
According to the New York Times, Soros is currently behind a $15 million-dollar effort to get Latinos to the polls to channel anger at Donald Trump into Democratic votes. But I’m not sure that such actions as these are going to achieve that. We’ll see come Tuesday what the impact of this is on the primaries. Trump is in everyone’s headlines constantly, and very often, particularly for him, negative publicity works just as well as positive.
Through MoveOn, as usual, Soros is trying to channel anger into street violence and riots. He is obviously quite notorious for his financing of dissidents in other countries which have led to revolutions in which oligarchic rule has become the substitute. I seriously question whether this billionaire, who feeds off the carcasses of people who bet against him, should be taken seriously as a leader of progressives. And talk about money in politics. It’s not ok for big money to finance candidates, but it’s ok for big money to finance the opposition?