by Marvin King
Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” is The Protester. It is a wise selection. Across the world, first with the Arab Spring, then the Occupiers of Wall Street and even in Alaska, and now over to Russia, the people are, to expropriate a phrase from economists, voting with their feet.
Protesting for social justice is not new.
Suffragettes demonstrated for the right of women to vote. Labor unions struck in the 1930s for living wages and the right to collective bargaining. Civil rights protesters suffered in order to topple the emasculating degeneracy of Jim Crow. Students protested Vietnam in the 1960s for being sent to fight a nonsensical war even though most of the soldiers doing the dying were too young to vote. And the Polish heroes of Solidarity that ended the Cold War (sorry Ronald Reagan, it wasn’t you), fiercely protested the Iron Curtain’s grip on their lives.
What links the protesters is a worldwide system that has more in common than many Americans may realize. Wherever the few dominate the many, we will continue to see protesters rise up and give voice to collective frustration. It does not matter if the few are a handful of obscenely rich capitalists, totalitarian atheists, or religious autocrats; the common theme is that protests feel abused by the assholocracy.
In America, this materializes in the form of egoists like Donald Trump who believe Americans actually hang with bated breath on their every word, or conservatives that argue immigrants are the cause of our economic woes (they are not), or that unemployment benefits actually cause unemployment (it does not), or that the middle class has not actually been left behind (in fact, they have).
I’m glad that The Protester is the person of the year, but they sure do have their work cut out for them.
Marvin King received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of North Texas and is now an Associate Professor of Political Science with a joint appointment in the African American Studies Program at the University of Mississippi. He conducts research into how political institutions affect African American politics. Marvin is available for public speaking engagements and you can follow him on Twitter @kingpolitics