Let’s refocus on getting out the vote for the final 50-odd days.

Protests organized by Black Lives Matter and other groups over the past three-plus months, from marches to sit-ins and everything in between, have been right and righteous, and absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, peaceful protests that morph into something else, that are co-opted by individuals and groups that have something other than social justice on their agendas, are becoming a problem. 

Peaceful protests are crucial to the health of our democracy. We have a right to stage and participate in them. They make a difference.

But riots only feed into Trump’s malarkey.

And make no mistake. His “law and order president” claim is absolute bullshit. Unfortunately, people beyond his base are starting to buy into it, and if he convinces enough of them, protesters like you and me will make zero headway over the next four years on change that’s desperately needed.

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A woman I follow on social media recently posted that she’s been working on a neighbor who, even as a lifelong Republican, is unhappy with Trump. She’s been encouraging that line of thought, asking the neighbor to really consider what the Republican party has become under the #OrangeMenace and urging her to consider voting Biden/Harris in November.

I do not want to tell people not to protest. Our anger and frustration are more than justified.

She nearly had the neighbor convinced, but then –

The neighbor started seeing peaceful protests turn into bedlam on TV:  businesses burning in Minneapolis, a teenager shooting three protesters in Kenosha, Wis., protesters wrestled to the ground and maced in the face by law enforcement … almost everywhere. 

“Everywhere” was the neighbor’s takeaway. And why wouldn’t it be? The news outlets aren’t showing video of the overall peaceful nature of these events, so there’s been nothing to counterbalance the conflict. The sad fact is that peace does not sell papers or boost ratings.

Never mind who’s responsible for the violence and chaos; what she sees is turmoil on American streets in American cities. 

It’s not sitting well.

Now the neighbor is saying she doesn’t feel safe anymore. She thinks maybe she’ll vote for Trump again, after all.

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I’d already been feeling uneasy before I read my friend’s post. The trends have been there to see – protests turned violent, Trump’s strategy to capitalize and a closing of the gap between Biden and the #OrangeMenace in the polls. 

Associated Press photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez

To be clear, I would never presume to tell people who are being oppressed, who are still being killed by cops in the streets and who, no matter what we do, are always stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle, to stop protesting.

It’s our right.

Nevertheless, I’m beginning to think the protests are becoming counterproductive. Not the peaceful protests themselves, but the piggybacking by extremists and provocateurs

And then – and I say this in fear of the Earth cracking open to swallow me whole – I find myself agreeing with the purveyor of “alternate facts” herself, Kellyanne Conway.

“‘The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,’ she said.” 

That’s the raunchiest bullshit of all – Trump is creating the chaos, and the antidote is Biden/Harris – but I fear she’s correct about one thing: Trump is benefitting.

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Coincidentally, I opened my Facebook feed later the same day to find the following from an insightful friend:

“My wish for today is a request for a multi-phased strategy where the protestors (whose message is being intentionally diverted by the planted instigators and stalking Neo-Nazi  militia) would temporarily (over the next 3 months) transfer their efforts to:

  • Volunteering to reach out to voters and arrange to either help get them out to the polls or assist them in getting their mail-in ballots to drop off locations.
  • Developing a detailed agenda of issues and suggested changes to get this country back on track no matter who gets elected to office.

“Right now, even as the protests continue, people are still being murdered and harassed by cops plus the current true violent hoard behind the president are using the occasion of the protests to stoke violence and prop up their law and order scam. That doesn’t mean protestors should not continue to hold public occasions to speak out on issues and on the agenda they develop. It just means we cannot afford to get outplayed because there is too much at stake and we have to have multiple strategies to get real change. The massive nighttime protests can always resume after we get this Hitler-style dictator out of office.”

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

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I’ll say it again. I do not want to tell people not to protest. Our anger and frustration are more than justified.

However, the surrounding and sometimes resulting mayhem is energizing Trump’s base even more, and it’s pushing people on the fence to the dark side. It’s happening at the very moment we can’t afford to add fuel to the Trumpsters’ fire. The states that could push the Electoral College totals in his favor are just too damn close.

For the next 50-some days, even as we keep speaking out in groups, on social media and in letters to the editor about the many injustices, let’s refocus on getting out the vote. Make calls, knock on doors, write letters to the editor and intermittent voters… whatever we can do to get Biden/Harris elected. Then vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do.

We can protest peacefully for necessary change again after that. I’ll be there.

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Green outlined graphic indicating copyright 2019 Martin C. Fredricks IV

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Featured image:  Associated Press photo by David Goldman

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1 Comment

  1. I hear what you’re saying and have to give you this succinct ‘take’:
    Protests: … “Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t…
    Or maybe: …. “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”…

    The real point is that the MSM (main stream media) is owned and controlled by the 1%. More so now than ever before. Since the 1% can make their ‘coverage’ of events play into whatever narrative that suits their interest, better tactics have to be used. And hopefully, tactics can be developed to deny them the ‘easy’ misuse of events.

    I agree with your suggested idea of volunteering to help get out the vote, and add in as poll workers to enable voting.
    We need more ideas of those sorts.

    “Fire the Liar” is what we need to accomplish.

Let me know what you think!