Is there a single impartial observer who’s witnessed anti-Trump protesters blocking off highways, destroying cop cars and storefronts, and assaulting Trump supporters and thought to themselves “now that’s a movement I should get behind?” It’s a ridiculous question to ask because the answer is an obvious “heck no.”
Most people who oppose Trump realize how counter-productive such protests are. Not only do they damage predominantly liberal communities (which is where most of such protests occur) — they make people more conservative.
As New York Mag reported:
The direct costs of violent protests are fairly self-evident. People who may not have anything to do with the underlying grievances get injured or killed, their livelihoods are impaired, the communities in which the rioting takes place suffer property damage that can linger for decades, and the inevitable police response creates new dangers for innocent bystanders. The pro-rioting (or anti-anti-rioting) argument portrays this as the necessary price of worthwhile social change. Rioting can generate attention among people who might otherwise ignore the underlying conditions that give rise to it.
It is surely the case that some positive social reforms have emerged in response to rioting. Lopez highlights the Kerner Commission and diversity efforts in the Los Angeles Police Department. But the question is not whether rioting ever yields a productive response, but whether it does so in general. Omar Wasow, an assistant professor at the department of politics at Princeton, has published a timely new paper studying this very question. And his answer is clear: Riots on the whole provoke a hostile right-wing response. They generate attention, all right, but the wrong kind.
This is hardly the only study to come to such a conclusion. The study quoted above looks into the effects of violent and non-violent protests in the 1960s, and not much has changed since then. Reason Magazine, in a poll following a Trump campaign rally in Chicago cancelled due to protests, found that “just 11% said they were less likely to support Trump because of this decision. Another 22 percent said they were actually more likely to back Trump, and 66 percent said their views were unchanged.”
If the most radical among the anti-Trump protesters don’t cut it out soon, they’re going to find themselves protesting for another eight years. Hopefully it was worth all the felony rioting charges to accidentally help Trump.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]