DeBlog: Do Protests Or Petitions Ever Work?

People are mad, these days. Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for … questionable reasons.

Either way, this seems to be a time of increased activism – either in real life (Occupy Wall Street, Occupy MN, etc.) or in virtual life (with the massive number of online petitions).

Tonight in Good Question, we’re going to explore whether these activist efforts work.

My short list:

Protest movements: Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, anti-Vietnam War, Civil Rights.

Petition efforts: today it’s the anti-early Black Friday sales by Target, maybe it’s saving a favorite TV show like Jericho, Arrested Development or Chuck.

What do you think? What does it take to make a protest work? What about a petition? Or are these efforts just a waste of time and energy? Share your comments, I’ll use them in Good Question tonight at 10.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Purpose Sincerity

    When I look at the leadership/motivator of today’s protest (occupy Wall street) and notice it’s the same guy that glittered for gay rights last summer (Nick Espinosa) I question his sincerity. Can he find other work perhaps? Is stirring the pot an addiction? A little of both?

    • Good Point

      DIdn’t this Espinosa also dump a bag of pennies on Tom Emmer at a town hall meeting before these incidents? Very interesting point. Now I too question the sincerity of the causes leadership

  • Julia-Suzanne Hill

    Petitions and Protests definitely work. There are many instances where petitions (even online ones like the BoA Fee one) succeeded.

    _But_ protests and petitions need to be clear cut and definitive in their goal(s).
    “End the Viet Nam War” = clear-cut, definitive.
    “Make the economy less suck-y” = not clear-cut nor definitve.

    Which is why the Occupy Protests will get nowhere unless or until they come together and agree on precise, targeted, definitive goals.
    How can aything be fixed if you don’t know what specifically needs to be fixed and who should be doing the fixing?

    • John Cahill

      the Problem is not the lack of a goal but the complexity and interconnectedness of a dozen or a Hundred goals.
      1 the Reality that Budget CUTS slow the Economy.
      2 Low taxes that the richest PAY the lowest in at LEAST 60 years.
      3 the two unpaid for wars that Bush started without Real goals for finishing them.
      4 the Conservative Supreme Court which accepts that the Rights of Corporations which are People under the Law of the last 130 years seem to superceed the Rights of the General public to have some CONTROLS on Elections.
      5 lack of common sense controlling pay of CEO’s Sports Figures and Wall street Minions whose pay is literally astronomical.
      6 add that to the Nonsense of eliminating the estate/ DEATH Tax we have created our own Monied Aristocracy already

    • frozenrunner

      With a couple of exceptions that is one of the most intelligent posts on this site (Citizen and Jackactionhero have come up with some informative posts). The one thing that activism also can not have when it is political is something that will change the rallying cry of a political party. Abortion is an example. Changes that would push society radically would be another, like the way we look at health care, end of life issues.

  • Reality sucks

    There’s simply too much to fix! And…when we can’t count on our elected officials to do the right thing—we take matters into your own hands. A bunch of jilted individuals protesting together for several different causes is what it’s come to. The problems are global and not uniquely American. In fact, they’re not getting any better—they’re getting worse. Greece, Italy, Ireland, Spain—and the Swiss (yes, the Swiss). Not to mention the Chinese mess. We are looking down our own road to austerity and this movement will morph and change right along with it. Not out of activism, out of bold necessity. The only facet that gets me red in the eyeballs is Americans hating Americans. Inexplicable.

  • Kevin Williams

    The revolution has begun and it is global. whether you like it or not YOU are part of the 99%. The police should be used to fight for instead of against us. I’m not against making money and yes if you work or have the resources then by all means enjoy your riches. However, inflation, prices at the grocery stores, bank fees, gas prices, etc etc is NOT proportional equal by any means to even increases in household income. In fact research shows that in the past number of years the average household and personal income have decreased, but our cost of living has not.

  • frozenrunner

    With a little further consideration, for a petition/protest to work it must be a simple message with a simple solution. Directness works as there is a tendancy to easily get off track and lose focus.

  • NorthernMNMary

    I agree that a petition and/or protest can succeed but: The people involved in such must be focused on the issue and not on their anger or own agenda. To succeed, people must respectfully state what it is they want and then work to get that specific point across. I don’t think protests or petitions are as effective when people start acting crazy and doing inane acts in the name of the protest. Be respectful people and you are more likely to get heard!

    The petition should be written as clearly and concisely as possible and state exactly what it is that is to be accomplished. Don’t write anger into the petition…simply state the facts and possible resolutions. Again, respect and intelligence is the key to succeeding.

    Well Jason, that’s my 2 cents worth and I’ve signed many an online petition that has made some impact in it’s objective. I haven’t been involved in protests but I imagine they should be conducted in a similar manner but I can also see how emotions can run high.


  • Mary

    It takes something that people from all walks of life to feel is wrong to step up rather than just a slight agreement. Best example of that was the Rodney King riots in 1992 and the worldwide outcry against Uganda’s social policy. It needs a much stronger following than what they had.

  • Dave Hoelzel

    Works better to vote with the wallet where it can be done: Netflix, “New” coke, B of A

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