The Wrong Protests
Posted on November 10th, 2016
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
The US Presidential Election has produced some drastic reactions, with people going so far as to hold demonstrations to protest the result.
Now, many of us have been on the losing side in recent votes, particularly the Scottish IndieRef and the EURef, so we can understand the anger people feel at their preferred candidate not winning, especially when Donald Trump has a proven track record as a liar, not to mention his extreme views on Gay Rights, climate change and other issues.
But that’s the trouble with democracy, and those who are protesting really ought to take a look at themselves. Nobody is saying you need to be happy with the result, and it is perfectly acceptable to hold demonstrations to protest about specific issues on which the Government has passed, or intends to pass, controversial legislation. But Donald Trump hasn’t even taken office yet, so what these people are protesting about is democracy itself. They are, in effect, displaying all the attributes of the very people they oppose.
There have also been many claims regarding Trump’s misogyny and homophobia. Again, these complaints are perfectly justified and it is difficult to ignore the fact that many people support his extreme views. However, we cannot assume that everyone who voted for him also agrees with him on every issue. Some will no doubt have been prepared to put up with some of his more extreme views because they feel that his overall political stance best reflects what they want to see in a President. We may disagree with that point of view, but it does not help calm matters to claim that every Trump voter (as opposed to active supporter) is a homophobic misogynist. All of us who vote often have to make concessions to some aspects of our preferred candidate’s policies. It’s just that Trump’s views are so extreme, and his character so unpleasant, that many people are struggling to understand why he received so many votes.
According to early reports on voting statistics, the answer is simply that Republicans voted for him because he was standing as a Republican candidate. He won because so many Democrat supporters refused to vote for Hilary Clinton and so stayed away from the polling booths. That is quite significant and raises an issue which has implications for Scottish independence. But more on that in a moment.
There is little doubt that Trump will make some awful decisions when he becomes President, and people have the right to protest about those decisions. But protesting about the democratic choice of the American people is pointless. It’s the sort of behaviour we can fully expect from Right Wing extremists should any votes go against them, although that seems unlikely in the present political climate, since Right Wing extremism has captured the imagination of a large percentage of the populace in both America and the UK.
Losing any election or referendum is disappointing and can make people feel utterly disheartened, but protesting about the result itself does no good. That doesn’t mean anyone should simply give up the cause they believe in. People will continue to campaign for Scottish independence in the hope of persuading others to change their minds, but that is not to say we do not respect the result of the last referendum. Indeed, as others have pointed out, it is the unionists who have not respected the result since they have reneged on virtually every promise they made in order to secure that result.
What recent democratic decisions have shown us is that politicians and their media pals are quite prepared to lie in order to gain support and are unrepentant about breaking promises. That shouldn’t come as any real surprise, except that they are even more blatant about it now. Or perhaps it is just that the internet allows their hypocrisy to be highlighted more easily.
The other thing which is becoming apparent is that, no matter what political or economic arguments people may use, voters tend to cling to their core beliefs. US Republicans voted for Trump in similar numbers to Republicans in previous elections, many Unionists in the UK will vote against Scottish independence no matter how much harm Westminster does to Scotland, and confirmed Yessers will vote for independence no matter what dire predictions the media make about the consequences. That is why winning the next IndieRef will be so difficult – because opinions are becoming more and more entrenched. As the UK continues its march towards Fascism, those who want a different way are becoming more vocal and extreme in railing against it. The trouble is that such protests are often misdirected, as in the case of the rallies protesting about Trump’s election. There may well be an angry groundswell against the result, but energies should be concentrated on campaigning against his policies when he implements them, not on attempting to undermine a democratic decision. There is certainly an argument to be made that the First Past The Post system employed in the UK and the USA produces results which do not necessarily reflect the views of the majority, but that is a separate argument altogether. It’s the system we are lumbered with until such time as there is sufficient will to alter it.
What many people are losing sight of at the moment is that we face a difficult and dangerous future. With the Right Wing extremists dominating control, there will be a great many things to protest about over the coming years. Let’s make sure our protests are made at the right time, and are aimed at the right issues.