‘Trump is just one of the other people we disagree with, we’ve been protesting every year now against the World Economic Forum and if Trump comes or not we don’t care.’
This was said by protestor Alex Hedinger to Reuters in the wake of a recent protest in Davos.
What was the point of this protest, that drove 20 protestors to break through a cordon yelling anti-capitalist slogans? Given statements like these, I think my confusion can be forgiven.
These protestors were openly shouting slogans such as ‘Trump not welcome’, yet when questioned, it seems like Trump isn’t the issue that is actually being protested.
In fact, his inclusion in the protest seems to be little more than a buzzword so that this small band of protestors can get noticed by the media. Or, if I was feeling particularly kind, I’d say they’ve been swept up by the anti-trump rhetoric peddled by innumerable speakers and media outlets since his inauguration over a year ago.
Be it a buzzword or misuse of rhetoric, the fact that protests veiling themselves as ‘anti-trump’ are appearing globally is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored.
Even days after his election, can it be forgotten that in multiple cities globally there were protests at his election. At many of these the same problem with the Davos protest can be seen, the real issue being protested has nothing to do with Trump.
For an example, a YouTube video of someone going up to many of these ‘anti-trump’ protestors in London after Trump’s election demonstrated this quite well, where almost everyone the spoke to simply diverted the question into a different issue that, while relevant to Trump perhaps, was by no means worthy of a London protest against him, at least. That is, if they had anything to say about him beyond ‘Trump bad’.
So, I’ve come to realise something. These protests about Trump are very rarely actually about Trump. In fact, I think many of these protests could exist entirely independently of Trump, as Alex Hedinger so helpfully pointed out in Switzerland.
What we are witnessing is projection onto issues in the name of drama, the reason for which very much depending on why you think that this is occurring.
If you believe that it is a symptom of leftist rhetoric, the cries that Trump is the worst thing to happen since Hitler coming from various sources then you’ll likely see this as nothing more than a continuation of a narrative.
A narrative that they may or may not be aware that they are adding to. Conversely, you may believe it simply a buzzword being exploited due to Trump’s infamy in the media.
After all, mentioning Trump in a headline gets a hell of a lot more views that a Marxist slogan.
But this agonizing over causes is in some ways counter-productive, because the problem is already apparent. For whatever reason you choose to give it, we have individuals in multiple countries protesting a democratically elected, constitutionally bound President to very little merit.
If you wish to stage a protest against the US’s policy towards immigration, fine, but why decide to do it in London, interspersed with a thousand other people protesting other things, such as women’s rights? Surely, when the only unifying thing about the protest is the anti-Trump message espoused, and therefore that’s the only thing that is reported on, isn’t your message lost?
And if that’s the case, what was the point in the protest?
It would seem to me that, in the absence of genuine protest, due to the sub-par way in which these protests are carried out if the claims they are about other issues are genuine, that these protests are often nothing more than outlets for those wanting to push agendas, but with no comprehension as to how to do that.
‘I support a more liberal stance on Immigration’ a chap in London might say, while drinking a soy latte. ‘I want to be involved in making that happen’. I can only then imagine that his thoughts would drift to Trump, and his mind would instantly jump to conclusions, in the vein of ‘I heard Trump hates immigrants, by protesting him I protest his views on immigration!’
To burst that bubble, no, protesting just Trump with your actual cause as nothing more than a minor detail, because you don’t know where it would fit on your ‘Dump Trump’ banner doesn’t magically reinforce your cause. Nor does doing it in a completely different country, because unless there has been a scandal of Watergate proportions international protests seem pretentious rather than effective, at least when protesting a president.
If you really want to protest Trump, fine. Use your right to protest, I’m not going to try and stop you. But I will wonder if you are actually protesting effectively, or really at all. After all, marching under that ‘Dump Trump’ banner when protesting for immigration doesn’t get your message across.
So my thoughts? You want to protest, make sure it’s being considered. Don’t be like those protestors interviewed why are unable to name why their there beyond hearing that Trump is bad. And most of all, if you live in a completely different country, such as myself, to Trump, don’t just hold protests because you feel like it.
Protesting a foreign leader should be something constrained to the worst leaders, for example Maduro and his erosion of all democratic process in Venezuela.
To me, protesting the policies of a man democratically elected and constitutionally held back from excesses by both law and another party with very different views isn’t quite the same thing, and I’m the first to voice criticism of the US system.
Perhaps the real answer is just to remember why people used to protest, and to save it for the issues that are really important. March for immigration if you feel like it. March for any issue, but just marching to ‘Dump Trump’ perhaps doesn’t carry the weight you think it does.