In a way, it was poetic that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared live on Fox News this week to sign a law limiting voting rights in Florida. After all, Fox & Friends, like much of its parent network, isn’t much of a media outlet, much like the law, although Republicans claim otherwise, isn’t really about stopping voter fraud. Election fraud, like the facts on Fox News, is so rare that it is virtually non-existent. And most loyal consumers of Fox News and other right-wing media will never be exposed to the truth about the Republicans’ unfair and un-American crackdown on the franchise because of the other front in the GOP assault. – the repression of the right to protest.
Historically, protests are how marginalized groups make their voices and views heard. If you don’t have enough clout to get a Legislative Assembly hearing, or enough power to get your story out to the media, at least you can take to the streets and hopefully be heard.
But in a hyper-polarized political and media landscape – where entire segments of the nation are literally cut off from perspectives let alone basic facts about the rest of the nation – protest is also the only way for dissenting perspectives to reach even these. public. This is exactly why Republicans in Florida and other states simultaneously restricted protest rights while restricting voting rights. Indeed, last week DeSantis signed a law limiting the right to protest in Florida. So while Republicans have introduced more than 250 voting restriction bills in 43 state legislatures since the start of 2021, they have also introduced bills in 31 states to suppress and criminalize protests and demonstrations. demonstrators. The goal, quite simply, is to manipulate the vote to maintain their political power while maintaining the stranglehold on public opinion by literally silencing all dissent.
After:Fox News Should Fire Tucker Carlson Before His COVID Mask Bullying Kills Someone
Simply put, Republicans fear the future. The protests for Black Lives last summer were multiracial protests, with Americans of all races and backgrounds coming together to demand justice and equality. They were also sweeping and moving acts of hope and faith – and power. To witness the protests in Minneapolis, Louisville or Atlanta was to watch America trying to become itself, trying to express pluralism and fairness not as buzzwords but tangible possibilities – Americans standing together, stretching the muscle of solidarity, holding up a mirror of the nation. We become. And the protests have changed. While still nascent in a historical sense, the summer protests and the Black Lives Matter movement in general have already shifted the national debate over racial justice and police accountability. Those who fear fairness and inclusive democracy believe the way to stop the power of the protests is to stop the protests themselves.
Many young voters, especially young black voters, have become politicized and activated during the summer protests to bring about that pluralistic future even more quickly – which in places like Georgia has directly led to an increase in the number of voters. black voter registration and engagement. But at the same time, the summer’s polls suggested that even potential Trump voters were favorably influenced by the protests. As it stands, Republicans represent a minority of voters across the country and yet manage to maintain disproportionate power through gerrymandering and voter suppression. But this clearly does not stop the future and, as a result, their crackdown on democracy is becoming more and more desperate and harsh.
With my apologies to the poet Gil-Scott Heron, it is clearer than ever that our democracy will not be televised. The protests of the people, by the people, for the people, are the last way to protect and perfect our democracy for all of us. This is where we act together against injustice and present a better picture of a possible future. The streets are the media platform of the people. If we cannot protest, we will be left to the whims of manipulative politicians and their performative media productions. The truth is already on life support. Democracy will die then.
Protesting and voting are two essential elements of the democratic formula. We can only defend our democracy – and usher in an inclusive and just future for all – when we defend the right to vote alongside the right to protest.
Judith Browne Dianis is the Executive Director of the Advancement Project National Office.