Protest rallies

Many of my generation are simply repulsed by the thought of those who engage in protest rallies. They view such rallies as anti-law and order.

Perhaps the situation is more complicated than simply objecting to those who violate a sense of proper public decorum. This country has had significantly contrasting protest rallies over the past few years. Take a look at the Black Lives Matter protests. Then review the January 6 insurrection protest. Now we are seeing the Palestinian Protests here and in other countries.

People are upset and believe that they need to voice their opinions in a public forum. They want attention provided to what they perceive as a public grievance that has not been addressed by our officials.

Lest we condemn the rallies too quickly, let’s take a look at our nation’s history. This nation started with a protest rally over the tax on tea at a Boston wharf. After that we had an armed resurrection  which we refer to as the Revolutionary War. America as a nation is steeped in protest rallies, even to the extent of a violent insurrection. We pretty it up in our history books and movies. However, the bottom line is that the United States was conceived in a violent rebellion.

Our founding fathers understood that and did not want another revolution to occur. That is why they wrote a Constitution with a Bill of Rights and the ability for the nation to amend those documents as needed as time progressed. These founding principles have served the nation well when we listen to them. They feared anarchy but acknowledged the right for the minority to object. The key difference from then to some of the current events is the process.

Our Constitution fully understands that the public will object to certain laws and want to enact new laws. People will rally to a cause and make their opinions known.  The difference in the process is that a rally is not a riot. Much of the Black Lives Matter and defund the police events have been riots as was the January 6 Insurrection. Riots are anarchy. Another way of looking at the situation is mob rule. With anarchy the rule of law is vanquished. What has set this nation apart is that concept of rule of law.

Our nation’s laws are designed to meet the public’s needs without the need for a riot or an armed insurrection. We have the ballot box and elected officials to address the concerns of the public. A change in law rarely occurs over night, but if change is warranted, it will occur under our system. Our system is designed to use the ballot, elected officials or a referendum to effectuate change. We are not designed to have law by riot.

Our system of laws allows for an idea to be vetted by the governing body or the public via a referendum. Many ideas simply fail when they are properly vetted. Legislative debate often finds the flaws or weaknesses in an idea or concept. Sometimes the idea is worth tweaking to address its weaknesses or faults and often times it is simply determined to not be a viable concept and is discarded. Mob rule simply does not allow for that vetting process to occur.

Today we as a culture glorify immediate gratification in our computer age. We tend to dismiss the efforts it takes to enact meaningful legislation. The media gives great attention to the riot and says we have a problem. Rarely does the media provide a story on what legislation is before Congress or the City Council.

All three of the riot concerns listed above have elements of merit that need to be addressed by our legislative authorities. All three have aspects that are without merit and need to be cast aside. Unless we wish to become a nation guided by anarchy it’s time to go back to governance as envisioned by Washington, Madison and Jefferson.