Without making light of dear friends and readers in Venezuela, we have a question. When you march in the streets, what exactly do you expect? We understand there are shortages of foods of all kinds, shortages in take-home pay, and unhealthy environments.
For the past two evenings – after our recent election – we in this country have seen street marches in a dozen major US cities. Clearly millions of voters here were not happy.
Our president-elect had been allowed to do nothing yet. Our stock market had already recovered from a damaged set of nerves. Poverty still exists in many places, but in the main Americans are blessed to have little enough to complain of but healthcare, gasoline prices (which is also true in Venezuela, despite being one of the greatest producers of gasoline and by-products), and an unresponsive government (also mirrored by you.)
In 1968, in universities especially, there were marches and small-scale rioting for change in many parts of the world. In the US, there was also a modicum of voter revolt, at that time against the Democrats. Watching television in those days was disturbing because what we witnessed seemed to us un-American, not to mention futile.
Watching television Wednesday, or last night, was equally disturbing because we could not imagine the purpose of these demonstrations. What did the marchers anticipate or want? Clearly they were unhappy over the results of our election, but what could they expect? Certainly not the immediate resignation of a president-elect who remains untried and unknown.
To be sure, you and we need to vent occasionally, need to make dissatisfaction visible and aural. In your country (not yet ours), inflation is a frequent and unhappy cause of public unrest. But here the marchers seemed to be active based on election promises rather than deeds of any kind.
Sometimes we learn that marching has been successful, that regimes or executives actually have been changed or removed. In our country this has not (yet) occurred.
So what we saw on television had little or no chance of changing anything, in any direction. People unhappy with the election had already spoken with their votes. What we want to know is, does marching actually make you feel better? For long? For how long? How much time passes before another march? What kinds of demands can be made mid-march, especially when the administration against whom people march has yet to make Move One?
Is it sufficient to march against outrageous probabilities? Are we well advised to learn of what the protocols for political marches are made?
Now we know this seems ridiculous behavior for sophisticated people. That unless people are willing to go to the wall for their beliefs, what is witnessed is pretend, show. Had results here been different, the marchers and the marches might well have foretold more serious and agonizing actions. We do have, in this country, angry people who – thanks to television and films, and their own bedrock beliefs in the transcendence of humanity – (no one is ever fatally wounded: they simply reappear in the next segment) – seem unafraid to challenge authority. They are armed (unlike you) and are convinced of their own righteousness.
Our political system, until this moment, has depended on the willingness of the people to be governed. We have given our consent to abide by the decisions of our friends, neighbors, even our enemies. And our system has prevailed since the founding of our republic.
We are fond of and believe entirely (or have until now) in the silent transfer of executive authority. We believe in our system of government, whether or not we are happy with a particular personality or movement.
What are we doing wrong?