Making your voice known

February 16th, 2012

Since our political system was established all those years ago, we have faced many actions. Of all the activities and people who come out of this great nation, one of the best known is the protester. This individual, believing he/she has been wronged, and must make a situation better. As a result, they take to the streets, hoping to vocalize their opinion. It is an all too well-known phenomena for Americans.

Yet when it comes to this subject, many of our nation’s citizens find themselves unable to act on their beliefs. Why is this the case? What is it about the protester that enables such mixed feelings?

There was a time when protest was as American as apple pie, even before there was such a description as American. The Boston Tea Party was one of the biggest protests that led to the gradual beginning of the Revolutionary War. After this, we saw the reforms of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Next there was women’s suffrage and finally, civil rights. These were all movements that, in the end, led to greater changes in American society.  As a result, these are currently looked upon fairly well, even if they were unpopular at the time of action.

Of course not all American protests have been considered successful. During the first half of the 20th century, several socialist movements were put down. The army was sent in to scare out the Bonus Army marchers.  Then, of course, there is still the memory of the massive anti-Vietnam War protesters during the 1960s and 1970s.

Movements such as these failed to achieve their specific goals, but also seemed to reflect negatively on those who partook (at least to a respectable majority). Episodes like these have always seemed to cast a dark light on the American protest scene.

So here we are, and once again we find ourselves amid more protest and dissent over the streets. Today, it is not about war or civil rights. Instead, it is primarily fiscally based.  There are those on the right, forming, of all names, the tea party.  Meanwhile, the left (and to some extent moderates) have established the Occupy Wall Street movement. Once again, protest has returned to the American scene. Along with this, there are the feelings of support and apathy.

I will be the first to admit, I am not one to participate in such behavior (at least in terms of fiscal matters). To me, the tea party marchers come across as if they are in a Halloween parade, while I believe that the Occupy Wall Street protesters should maybe search for possible employment once they get their point across. That being said, these actions are the epitome of a functioning democracy.

The fact that Americans are paying attention to the relation of the economy with government is encouraging to know that they are heard. We are fortunate enough to know that, for the most part, our government and citizens can perform this in a respectable manner. Compare this to the problems that are going on in Syria and Greece.

There are, by all means, greater political duties that can be performed, such as voting. But political protest, no matter where it falls ideologically, is still healthy for the United States every now and then.