The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Protesting corrupt regimes seems to be all the rage right now, both here and abroad. After the Romanian government issued a decree to rescind a decree that had decriminalized some corruption offenses on Saturday, mistrust of the corrupt regime led half a million citizens to take to the streets in lively protest. The New York Times reported that of the half million, about a quarter had gathered in the capital of the former Communist nation, Bucharest, bent on influencing the democratically elected month-old government.
“Many said they would continue at least until they were convinced that the month-old government would refrain from future efforts to weaken the country’s corruption laws,” reported the Times.
The tenacity with which these fervently democratic citizens have taken to protesting is certainly encouraging and, more relevant to our democratically-proud nation, the protesting should show just how powerful our collective voice can be in a country supposedly for the people.
Americans know all too well how impactful protesting can be, going all the way back to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The extensive protesting and rallies held since the fateful date of Jan. 20 show how well we Americans know our history, but complacency is the biggest threat to the political activism as well as democracy. It’s the biggest. A tremendous threat.
The protests occurring nationwide, as well as the few at Miami, are a healthy part of a free democracy. In a place as isolated as Oxford, holding protests such as the one organized by the Miami College Democrats on Saturday is an important part of stimulating democracy in the places its power was most ignored during the election year.
In almost any democratic country, revolutions have manifested from the ground up. They have taken place in spite of oppressive regimes and are inspired by a country’s lack of and need for human empathy. In a statement released by the Miami College Democrats, their reason for rallying was simple: to display solidarity.
“The actions Donald Trump has taken thus far, as well as his promises for the near future, alarm us,” the Democrats issued in their grievance statement against the president. “They do not place the America we love first, but rather an America that has lost sight of its courage and founding principles. We assemble today to demonstrate in solidarity with other concerned organizations and citizens from the Miami University, Oxford, and Butler County Community.”
Former president Barack Obama said last week that he was heartened by the swathes of recent protests that targeted President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees. Obama has promised to keep up the tradition of not criticizing his successor, but also said he would speak up when he felt it was necessary to do so. He did so 10 days post-inauguration.
A spokesperson for the former president said that “citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.”
And for many, American values are at stake.
All too often the idea and thrill of protesting excites those involved, only to wane and dissipate in short order. In this age, we can’t let this happen. We mustn’t forget to uphold our values in what is shaping up to be a volatile four-year term. Like the Romanians, we must exercise our rights as democratic citizens or, more simply, as people who fight for what is right.