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America’s Protest Movement: Left and Right

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Photo by Alisdare Hickson, Creative Commons Licensing.

On Saturday, March 4, 2017 two events are planned. The first event is an Alaskan tradition. Since I was seven years old, downtown Anchorage, Alaska has celebrated the start of the Iditarod, the longest sled dog race on earth, on the first Saturday of every March. The second event is a national pro-Trump event in Washington, D. C. called “The Spirit of America Rally.”

In light of how much the media has been maligned under the 40 day old Trump administration, I feel an explanation is in order. After all, I am a part of the media, which is being branded by Trump and Sean Spicer, his press secretary, as an enemy of the American people.

This is an editorial, which means it is my personal thoughts about the motivation behind the “Spirit of America” rallies. It is my opinion. Please do not mistake this as news, or fake news.

Even though facts are presented, this is still an editorial.

I guess, I should also admit, I possess biases and they are sticky. I display them daily on my social media pages. I typically post on topics political scientists would label as “liberal” or “left-of-center.”

I support protesting, having planned many over the years. Protesting is an American tradition, stretching back to the Boston Tea Party. American historians credit the Tea Party with communicating to King George III, the British monarch, the intentions of the colonies to not be bullied by the empire. The shout was, “no taxation without representation” in response to the Tea Act of 1773.

The colonies wanted greater participation in the direction of their lives. Most protests in America reflect this desire. Participants are motivated by an order, decision, or public policy viewed as a direct threat to the quality and direction of their lives.

Republican representatives were reminded of this by the contentious town hall meetings the last two weeks. Pictures and videos of ordinary American went viral, as they poured their hearts. Protesters have a long list of concerns, the primary one being the GOP’s obsession with redrafting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) along more market-friendly lines.

Last month, on Saturday, February 21, a Women’s March on Washington drew a larger crowd than organizers expected. Echoes of the D. C. march were felt all over the world, with Anchorage drawing upwards of 3,500 to the park strip.

Alaskan Conservative blogger, Casey Reynolds, decided to visit the park strip. He was reluctant, due to the anti-Trump tone. When he arrived, he immediately began making comparisons to how the Women’s March felt and the feelings he experienced at Tea Party rallies under the Obama administration. It was a sense of feeling wronged, as if the country was somehow going in a direction the protester felt she (or he) could not tolerate without a response.

Debbie Dooley knows that feeling very well. She co-founded the Tea Party and held her first major protest on March 4, 2009. Breitbart published her thoughts on February 8. Apparently, the Women’s March impacted many on the right and they called Dooley and begged her to organize a counter-protest march.

She rose to the challenge and is orchestrating events on two days, February 27 and March 4. The Spirit of America website is very clean, featuring positive, affirming quotes across its five sections. The home page leads with a Donald Trump quote: “I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down.”

The description doesn’t fall squarely in line with the Left’s caricature of conservatives, but it is close.

“On January 20th, 2017, President Trump outlined a clear vision for the nation: America first.”

When was the last time you heard anyone in Washington, D.C., say that, let alone a President? It’s inspiring, and after countless years of lies, wars, scandals, soaring debt, and declining esteem, it couldn’t come at a better time. That’s not to say that it will be easy, unfortunately. In fact, it’s going to be difficult and time-consuming to recorrect such a fundamentally altered course.

A seditious fringe has resolved to sabotage this restored purpose. An insidious propaganda apparatus intends on further shredding the truth. Our cities are being assailed, our police are under attack, and our livelihoods are being given away. From radical Islamic terrorism to our deliberately undermined military, the challenges posed from without are just as dangerous.

But as Thomas Aquinas said, “If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.”

President Trump has thankfully set a new course, and no matter your race, creed, color, gender, orientation, age, or anything else traitors exploit to divide, We The People are one. Come show your support for him, each other, and our country right in the heart of our capital: . . .

Misc.: This is a peaceful assembly. Please do not impede traffic, litter, vandalize, or do anything else illegal and unbefitting. Act worthy of yourselves.

The advice ending this description is in reference to the placards which littered D.C. streets following the Women’s March.

If I make an concerted effort to put aside my (liberal) bias, Reynolds’s viewpoint doesn’t appear too distant. Explanations of why Hillary Clinton lost the election centered around the disconnect felt by rural America from urban America. Large segments of the population are living in separate realities.

A poor white person in Appalachia doesn’t understand the urban cry of social inequality or Black Lives Matters’s accusations of privilege. The fight over bathrooms seems stupid in their eyes, especially when gender is traditionally defined by body parts, not feelings. Politics is getting so rabid that it keeps cropping up inside sports, instead of staying where it belongs, on cable news channels, inside newspapers, and on Capitol Hill.

While pushing back against extreme acts — like the one committed by Adam Purinton in Olathe, Kansas, where he shot two Indian men he mistook for Arabs — conservatives feel belittled by the Left, when associated with xenophobia or racism.

Nor, do they view themselves in the same league as Richard Spencer, a branded white nationalist; no matter how many interviews he attracts. Ian Walters, a spokesperson for CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, issued this statement on February 25, “His views are repugnant and have absolutely nothing to do with conservatism or what we do here.”

The near constant protests against everything Trump is doing is maddening to the Right. The continuous fights on social media just seem unnecessary. They perceive that the Left is acting as if Trump wants to hurt them, not protect them.

Correction. The “mainstream media” is acting as if Trump wants to target portions of the American populous, instead of “make America great again.”

He is called a fascist. His executive orders are treated as if they are personal attacks. The coverage of the airport protests seemed excessive and one sided, just like the BLM coverage, which makes police look like the enemy of America. The idea that a real fear of the immigrant population exists in America due to what is happening in Europe and the Middle East is dismissed as irrational.

The bills starting to manifest that criminalize protesting are a sign of this weariness. The Left is fighting so hard in the street, it is disrupting business. People are being prevented from going home and emergency vehicles are being held up. Someone needs to stand up to this “terrorism.”

The Left wants a world that just doesn’t make sense to the Right.

This Saturday (March 4) feels like Trump supporters are seeking a safe place to affirm themselves in a way the two year campaign gave them opportunity to do so. At a Florida stop on February 18, some 9,000 persons showed up.

My (liberal) brain couldn’t make sense of why that many people chose to come out.

They see something in Trump that is a reflection of themselves. He speaks in a way that speaks to them. Governance is not supposed to be complicated, with several nuances or viewpoints. Public policy needs to be tangible. All Congress is doing is fighting. Trump is their protest. Period.

For that reason alone, I am going to imitate my conservative friends and make an attempt to escape political talking points and distract myself with sports. I’ll be at the Iditarod. The four-legged athletes can’t read, write, or speak English, so, I don’t expect any political statements from them.

Here’s a chance to unite all of Alaska behind something we can all agree on. At least for now, we still have that.

Life long Alaskan, Kokayi Nosakhere brings 20 years of networking and organizing experience to the role of community voice reporter. Born and raised by the Fairview neighborhood, Nosakhere likes to think he understands humanity enough to validate the award he received from the Alaska Press Club in April 2015. If you have a cultural event or viewpoint on an issue, please contact him at Kokayi@alaskacommons.com

What do you think?