Sunday, August 31, 2008

Inciting Change: Mass Protest Is The Way To Go

What incites political change? Public outrage key issues usually has something to do with it. But, that is usually not enough to cause politicians to flinch over changing their policies. Invisible public outrage, that is, when opposing opinions are held but not voiced, tend not to provoke government officials to do anything. It is only when people with a common goal are united under a cause that they become noticed, and then, and only then can change become a possibility.

On August 30th, 150 000 protesters marched through the streets throughout Mexico. The marchers were protesting the rising number of murders and kidnappings in the country. The main purpose of the march was to force President Felipe Calderon to crackdown on the increasing criminal activity.

It is unsure whether this protest will cause the President to scramble to please the public, but if the South Korean protest over U.S. beef is any indication, then at least SOME action should be taken in Mexico considering the South Korean government was willing to resign over the beef controversy.

In Canada, I hate to say it, but we hardly have any massive protests. For the most part, the only media covered protests we have are when G8 conferences are held here. I think if we had massive protests for a common cause we'd get more out of our governmental officials. If they can physically see with their own eyes that people are 'together' on an issue, they will almost surely have to take some action to alleviate the problem(s).

"Seeing is believing," and that is something we really lack. The only way that politicians make changes is when they are forced into doing so. They were elected by us, and unless we come right out and voice our opinions nothing is going to change. Now, while I am pushing for massive protests as a way to get our voices heard, there are also other avenues to explore. For instance, making petitions, writing to , and etc. The only caution about large protests is that they are best done peacefully. When violence enters the equation, that is when the focus gets taken away from the issues that started the protest and is put on the violent actions.

If Mexicans and South Koreans can unite under a just cause, there is no reason why everyone else cannot. While I state that Canada needs to unite under a common issue, I think the U.S. is in more need of this same sort of objection to their government (ie: the Iraq War, protecting their personal rights, Guantanamo Bay prison rights, overseas foreign policy, the economy, etc.) What do you think?

5 comments:

The Commentator said...

Canadians are apathetic. We lack any vigorous intent to speak out about things. Part of the reason is that we rely way too much on government.

DC said...

yes, and the fact that we have very similar parties with no real ideological differences is a problem as well. It is as if we really do not have a choice in whatever decisions we make anyway.

The Commentator said...

Aw man, no kidding. At least the Greens and NDP try to be different.

And the promises they make...wow.

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

very interesting. I am wondering why some protests become violent. I would assume protests become violent when they know the chances of their being heard are low. And possibly the most violent protests occur in autocratic societies. What are your views on that?

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

I am not sure if my last comment went thru....why do you need to approve the comments?

Anyway I was wondering if as a student of history you see any relationship between violent protests and dictatorships? I am wondering why some protests turn violent? Is it because the protesters dont have faith that peaceful protests will make any difference to their rulers?