Protests Are Their Own Reward

I long time ago I wrote a piece (I’ll link to it here) on the relationship between liberal bloggers, the online communities they create, and the people who demonstrate in protest marches. At the time, I was a little annoyed that some of my blogging friends were so dismissive of folks who act out their political dissent in person. I was reminded of that piece when I was reading Nicole Narea’s article in the The New Republic.

She’s concerned that the protestors currently descending on Washington, D.C. to protest Trump’s inauguration are lacking any unified message beyond anti-Trumpism. I don’t see this as a problem. What they agree on is that they don’t want this new president. Let them give us a thousand different reasons why.

Protests in this country have never had a unified message, but we still call the marches against Jim Crow “Civil Rights Protests” and the marches during Vietnam “anti-war protests.” There were overriding themes and they stuck.

Protests tend not to accomplish anything right away unless they’re so menacing that the king wants to flee the palace. What happens more commonly is that they act as a great social networking event. Friendships and connections are made. People get organized. People get energy. We can do some of this with blogs and apps, but there’s nothing like people meeting like-minded people in the flesh.

So, the real story of the Pussyhat Revolution tomorrow won’t be in what gets broadcast on television. It will be what happens on the ground, on the subways, in the hotel lobbies and bars, as people come together to mourn and to share their fears, and to find their resolve.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at