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Remember the Protesters Have First Amendment Rights Too

Protester
Remember the Protesters Have First Amendment Rights Too

The election is over. It’s time for politicians to get back to the business of government, and that includes addressing the concerns of protesters.

We’re getting close to a week since the election, so it is time to think about how we – as a nation – are going to deal with the results. There are still protests on the streets, and there is more than a little panicking on social media. However, as information is trickling in about what the Trump presidency is actually going to look like, it’s becoming clear that the most incendiary rhetoric probably will not make it to the business of governing come January.

While it might be tempting to respond to protesting and panic with less-than-polite statements that amount to little more playground taunting. Remember, this election was particularly toxic, and Trump made no bones about using scare tactics to mobilize his supporters. For months now, many on the left watched as their opposition openly stated that their primary goal would be to destroy everything that they have done for the past eight years, and more.

As tempting as it might be to ridicule or complain about protesters, unless they are being violent or destructive, it’s counter-productive to discourage them. If young people are protesting, then they are engaging in the political process. You can think that they are wrong and disagree with their beliefs, but suggesting that they should just sit down and shut up only proves the worst notions they have about the political process.

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The supposed adults in the room haven’t been very adult-like for years now, so arguably we have created this atmosphere – and we need to correct it constructively. Suggesting that the goal would be to silence anyone is not constructive.

This election granted center stage to the fringes in America, with both sides playing to the extremes of the political spectrum. While those fringes have mastered being boisterous, they still aren’t representative of the majority of Americans. Those young people protesting need to learn that, but they won’t if we answer their protests with calls to be silent.

We need to remember that one thing has remained consistent for quite a long time now – the majority of Americans believe our nation is going in the wrong direction, and that same majority wants our politicians to work together. If there was a mandate in this election, it had nothing to do with shifting radically from one end of the spectrum to the other. It was simply a call to change direction. Trump won simply because he wasn’t offering “more of the same.”

As for those people protesting, they aren’t professionals hired by the left. They are just people who are afraid of the hatred that filled the campaigns we just finished. Bluntly, there’s nothing wrong with that, and arguably, it should be commended. To everyone who has been preaching that we aren’t the hateful rhetoric, you shouldn’t be saying a word against the protests that are simply a reaction to that hatred, unless it goes over the edge into violence and destruction.

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Please, do not forget that the First Amendment includes protections for protests. This nation was built on the concept of allowing the masses to attempt to be heard by our leaders and fellow citizens. For too long, it has degenerated to screaming matches. Instead of continuing that cycle, it’s time to go out on the streets and meet those protesters. We need to stop yelling, start listening, and move on to a point where we can do what we used to do well – communicate. If nothing else, when you do that, you can think that Ronald Reagan would be proud.

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Liz Harrison
About Liz Harrison 66 Articles
Political commentator, former campaign operative, media executive, legal and medical writer, literary editor and publisher. Founder at Vigilant Liberty Radio, podcaster and radio talk-show host, and a sexual freedom activist.

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