Public Protests Should Be Used Sparingly

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I know some "Occupy" geeks. Many are quite passionate about the issues and their hearts are in the right place. Others are merely rabble-rousers who, as in many movements, want to make a big noise so they get a little attention. The latter of these can be dangerous to any movement because of their inability, or unwillingness, to communicate points at issue. They would rather just make noise and cause trouble. There are ways to handle these, what I call "coattailers." 

I know many others who support the ideals represented by these Occupiers. These, too, have their hearts in the right place... but for one reason or another cannot, or are afraid to, join in the fun, often because of the coattailers and the negative vibs they bring to the party.

Observing the methods and tactics used by the general population of Occupiers, one must wonder why they refuse to learn from not just their own experience, but the experience of those who've come before. What good does it do for them, or even the Tea Partiers, to hold demonstrations and marches in front of offices where nobody can do anything about the contested issues? 

In these United States of America, the greatest nation to ever grace the face of Planet Terra, we have 535 individuals who vote to enact law. There are 100 in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives.

Five hundred thirty-five votes are the only ones that count.

Don't like the NSA, or any other government bureaucracy, inspecting our skivvies? Five hundred thirty-five votes are all that count.

Don't like our resources, our tax dollars, being given to people who hate us? Five hundred thirty-five votes are all that count, 435 in this case actually.

Think President Obama's allowance needs to be cut or suspended? Four hundred thirty-five votes. 

Have issues with bloated, overpaid and under-worked bureaucracies spending our hard earned tax dollars frivolously? Four hundred thirty-five votes... a simple majority of which can defund them. Congress once cut funding for the Supreme Court, thereby reducing its ability to override law.

Article I, particularly Sections 7 and 8, of our United States Constitution spells out the powers of our Congress. But how many of us read that document from time to time to remind ourselves of the limitations placed upon our government? 

If we have only 435 individuals who wield all the power of our national purse strings, 535 who make law, why do we protest where there isn't anyone who can actually affect any changes? Why aren't those protests and demonstrations of citizen epistledoffedness, I know that isn't a word but the real one isn't proper in polite company, performed where they will be effective... in front of offices of our elected officials?

Those 535 elected officials also attend public events don't they. All but Congressman Chuck, Esquire, who's in hiding. Why aren't we walking up to them and asking pointed questions face to face? I'm here to tell you there are some who will make accusations of being discourteous for asking difficult questions, but how is asking a righteous question in a courteous manner showing discourtesy? I've seen Zack Wamp tighten up more than once, like every time I've ever raised my hand during a Q&A, but he's always answered my questions... and unlike his son, he's never been afraid to shake my hand. 

Our elected officials have forgotten that a direct question deserves a direct answer, haven't they. Sort of like using Duke's Mayonnaise in slaw, it's expected to provide a direct answer. But what do we get? Blather, obfuscation, sometimes down right lies... and then they go on to someone else before we can object to their lack of answers for their poor behavior at our expense, don't they.

Our elected officials often use what's known as "The Delphi Technique" or "The Delphi Method" to hoodoo us into believing they've provided an answer when, in fact, they haven't. Simple observation of their behavior shows this loud and clear, but there are also simple methods of overcoming this consensus building method. 

Margaret Thatcher stated several times, both in speeches and written documents that consensus is nothing more than a lack of leadership. My favorite is from a speech she gave at Monash University in Melbourne on Oct. 6, 1981, to wit: "To me consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no-one believes, but to which no-one objects... the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner 'I stand for consensus'?" (source; Archives, Margaret Thatcher Foundation)

So, what do we do? Protests and demonstrations need to be where they should be, where they're most effective... at the offices of elected officials, especially if those officials choose not to abide by, some who even denigrate, the will of the people, his or her constituents, and not special interests. But public protest should be used sparingly, and only to bring attention to an issue. Then it's time to back off and courteously ask questions, while being fully prepared to debate the issue in all its aspects. 

When we see elected officials at public events, we should never be afraid to ask those difficult questions. To be sure, there are those, generally party elitists, who will tell us not to bring up significant issues or ask difficult questions because elected officials won't come to speak to groups in the future. If invited, they need to accept... or suffer public notification they’ve been asked to speak and refuse. There is no draft in politics, even though I would personally like to see one Mr. J. Pat Williams drafted to run against Congressman Chuck, Esquire, so when one volunteers for public office there is no excuse not to accept invitations to speak. Those are, after all, the folks who elected him to the office he holds. Well, there is one excuse... no, uh, no, um, let's just say no guts. They got traded for a big car somewhere along the way.

Protests are fine, even fun, but it's even more fun to politely ask difficult questions of politicians as see them attempt to weasel their way out of the hot seat. 

Here we are at the 237th anniversary of our nation's declaration of independence from England, at the time the world's greatest military power. Perhaps it's time for a reminder to our elected officials just exactly who pays the bills from sea to shining sea. If they can't debate their stance and explain their position on specific issues, do we really need them making decisions that will affect the lives of our families and heirs?

Leaders lead. They don't seek consensus. Sort of like Scotty Mayfield's Turtletracks, or Reece's cups or Mound's bars or plain old chocolate. 

I sense a trip to the store brewing... 

Royce Burrage, Jr.

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