The power of protest

This is an article by Craig Meichan and Jessica Potter.
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Craig Meichan and Jessica Potter: ‘protests are powerful’

The inauguration of President Trump – and his views towards pretty much anyone that isn’t a white, straight, cis-gendered male – sparked unprecedented outrage and prompted protests around the globe. But do world leaders really take note of these displays of public disapproval?

In today’s society people protest about everything and anything. That being said, have they simply become a novelty with considerably less influence?

If we look at the most recent marches to ‘save our NHS’ some would say they have achieved virtually nothing.

Even petitions with over a million signatures are rejected by Parliament, so really, who is going to care about a bunch of ‘hippies’ parading through the streets of London?

The issue with protests is not that they don’t effectively communicate society’s disapproval, than they are over used. Micah White (2016) articulates this point well, describing protests to be “more like a ritualised performance of children than a mature, revolutionary challenge to the status quo”.

So why do people protest if many of them are failing to achieve the impact they want?

Well in short to get their point across, to try and make a change. You only have to look at the recent women marches to see how much impact protests can actually have.

Whilst it is said that protests can be over used and sometimes pointless, we think it entirely depends on the issue that is being raised and whether it is important enough to listen to.

The policies that President Trump is putting in place are offensive to many and appear to be taking us back in time. The numerous protests going on around the world are bringing all the communities affected by Trump together. Actress Ashley Judd spoke at a recent march in Washington: “Together we, all of us, will fight, resist and oppose every action that threatens the lives and dignity of any and all of our communities”.

Yes they grab attention. Some even spark Parliamentary debate. But there is no denying that protests are losing power.

Society cannot hold on to this belief that one single act of opposition is going to prompt any sort of change. We need to do more.

We need to mobilise our protests into fully fledged movements. We need to, as clichéd as it may sound, start a revolution!

Craig Meichan and Jessica Potter are first year students studying Public Relations with Politics at Edge Hill University

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