On March 25th, I attended the March for our lives protest in New York City. March for life’s mission is to embrace and protect individual’s life. This campaign has seen massive national support as a direct result of the Parkland, Florida High School shooting where 17 individual’s lives were taken due to domestic terrorism. Additionally, the increase in support from other campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, and the Me-Too, and Celebrity appearances have helped to ignite awareness of this campaign quickly. I have been to many political protests before, but the size and diversity of this protest has stimulated national attention. Political protests like March for life that believes in one core goal can increase the polarization in the nation.
The March for Life organizers effectively captured their target audience and received support from Celebrities and Social Media outlets to highlight the campaign. The campaign used a catchy #Marchforlife and the hashtag was trending throughout twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Their social media presence boomed the March 24-25th weekend. The campaign also attracted Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Olivia Wilde, and Paul McCartney to be participants within the March and not guest stars. This component, in my opinion, attracted individuals because of the celebrities’ social media presence and their ability to capture their fans to attend the March. Furthermore, I believe having the March for Life throughout large and small cities, and small towns provided different individuals to have the opportunity to attend the March. These strategies have helped promote and strengthen the mission or March for Life.
The protest organizers strategically captured their target supports, which were millennials and left-wing supports. During the protest, I saw different racial groups, and young and old individuals, but they were primarily high school or University students whom opposed the strict gun laws, but it was rare to see individuals who supported gun control policies. I believe that political protests stimulate polarization within the nation. For example, the March for Life protest is a public announcement of all of the individuals who support stricter gun control laws; however, the protest excludes individuals who support gun control laws or even individuals who believe in moderate gun control laws. Protests stimulate the hollowing out of the middle, and it leaves little room for discussion because there are only two solutions: either to leave gun control laws the same or the same them entirely. This approach forces individuals to pick a side and directly erodes democracy. On the other hand, the political protests can stimulate discussion between groups because the protest and the movement is a national movement that has captured national awareness. Therefore, it can increase discussion between groups to help recover democracy for the polar ends.
The United States’ second amendment, which protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms is a crucial component of the essence of being an ‘American.’ This amendment was adopted over 200 years ago in December 15, 1791. Although, this amendment was adopted over 200 years ago, many Americans strongly believe in their right to bear arms, which is one extreme end of gun control policies. Additionally, these individuals believe this is one of their core rights of democracy, and they believe that the right to bear arms is a human right and it cannot be taken away from them. However, these individuals are on the extreme end of their beliefs and believe stricter gun control policies will limit their rights to obtain a gun in the future, which will essentially translate to limiting their human rights.
On the other side of this debate, are individuals who believe in stricter gun control laws as a result of the increase in school shootings. Since the start of 2018, there have been 17 school shootings, which according to CNN is “on average, 1 school shooting every week this year.” Statistics like this have increased people’s incentives to advocate and support March for Life because of the number of deaths of young children. Chenoweth believes that campaigns or protests “… aim is to change incentives, not to melt hearts” however, the March for Life has strengthened its campaign from the empathy from individuals across the United States. Therefore, I believe that an important strategy of protests is to increase empathy across different groups, which will thus increase diversity and size of the campaign. Additionally, individuals who supported March for Life also believe that the gun control policies threaten their human rights and democracy. Thus, it is difficult to assess which side’s democracy is more at threat, which in reality is impossible to accurately measure.
Moving forward, it is important to continue to advocate for individuals beliefs, but it is important to consider both sides of the story. Political protests that publicly represent individuals beliefs are also important to enhance democracy; however, at the same time it increases polarization due to the either or solutions presented by the two sides. To resolve the polarization issues that arise with political protests, it is important to continue the stimulation of conversation after major protests can help the recovery of democracy. Thus, political protests ignite polarization, but it is an important step to take to resolve important issues like gun control laws.