Protests push progress

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Protests push progress

By Amber Braker, Staff Reporter

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I was disheartened when I heard that Donald Trump had won the presidential election almost three months ago. I saw his triumph as a loss for equality and sincerely feared for the future of the United States. Yet even then, the gravity of what had happened still hadn’t quite sunk in yet.

Inauguration Day was a bitter reminder of the situation at hand. Trump’s presidency was at that point unavoidable. I remember feeling frustrated and helpless as I sat with my friends huddled around our lunch table listening to the next president take his oath of office and become, arguably, the most powerful man in the world. I felt like I was witnessing the end of an era of tolerance and progress.

That day I forgot that the people have power too. But ever since then, I have been reminded time and time again that we have control over the behavior and policies that we accept and a choice to stay silent or make our voices heard.

Opponents of Trump’s views and policies have organized protests to demonstrate that he does not speak for all of America. It began with the women’s marches across the nation the day after the Inauguration, but did not stop there.

I have been reminded time and time again that we have control over the behavior and policies that we accept and a choice to stay silent or make our voices heard.”

After various official National Park Service Twitter accounts were temporarily shut down for tweeting facts and information about climate change, scientists began to voice their fears about the Trump Administration’s anti-science policies and reliance on “alternative facts”. As outrage over the censorship grew, plans were made for a “March for Science” in Washington D.C. on Earth Day (April 22).

Demonstrations were staged in airports across the country over the past few days in opposition of  Trump’s ban on immigration from numerous Middle Eastern countries. They reveal people’s strong disapproval of his senseless and borderline Islamophobic foreign policy.

For the protesters at these rallies, Trump’s inauguration was not a death knell but rather a call to action. It was a reminder that there are people who want to halt, or even reverse, years of social advancement. It galvanized and inspired them to take to the streets and express their beliefs.

Their critics claim they are just wasting their time complaining about things that it’s too late for them to change. They say that if this many people were truly against Trump’s beliefs, then they should’ve gone to the polls on Election Day and stopped him from reaching the White House in the first place. But these people are missing the point.

These protests are a statement to the president and congressional leaders that the opposition cannot be ignored. They are an essential part of our democratic system because they allow people to exercise their freedom of speech and to advocate for something they believe in, even if they do not share the same views as those in power.

I am not eligible to vote and won’t be for at least another one and a half years. There are very few ways for me, and others my age, to get involved in politics. But protests are a method of civic participation that’s open to everyone. They allow us to speak our minds, be heard by world leaders and incite social change.

Whether you agree with them or not, protests are a cornerstone of freedom of expression and a crucial part of what makes this country great.

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