The inauguration has come and gone, and now Trump will get to work dismantling our already dismal social safety net and environmental protections. He will continue the work of his predecessors making sure that every bit of money and power will be squeezed from the lower and middle classes into the hands of the very wealthiest. That isn’t what I want to talk about. Signing executive orders continuing the work of dismantling the Affordable Care Act and removing protection for home buyers are actions that speak for themselves. No, I want to talk about the protests.
Last I heard 300 people were arrested during the protests in DC. Some windows were broken and ATMs were looted. A Trump supporter was punched in the face. There weren’t many acts of violence, compared to the number of people there, but there were a few. The protestors didn’t get very much air time. Granted, there was lots to cover. Trump’s short speech better suited to a Batman villain than a president. The relatively small crowds. The nearly nonexistent crowds watching the parade. The funny protest signs. The protestors were relegated to a medium sized story among many medium sized stories, and much larger stories. Had there been real riots, had people died, with cop cars overturned and set ablaze, that would have been the only story we heard about.
I’m not advocating violence. But I am acknowledging it’s power. If you want people to pay attention to you then having a coherent, rational, calm argument is one way. A faster, arguably more effective way is to kill a bunch of people. It works for terrorists. They may not achieve whatever aims they had, but they’re getting a lot more people to pay attention to them, and that’s halfway there. There were record setting protests in prisons across the country last year, fighting against inhumane conditions and borderline slavery. No one died. You probably didn’t hear about them.
No one knows how Trump will govern, but he’s not off to a great start. If he keeps pushing people and sucking every benefit he can from the poor, the largest and weakest group in the country, we are going to see more violence. There are enormous riots in Mexico right now. They’ve been simmering for a long time, and were finally triggered by an increase in gas prices. We are deluding ourselves if we think that violence on that scale can’t happen in the US. At this point, it feels almost inevitable.