it is too simple to say that may 1, 2007 will be a day that will be scrutinized with a real potential for infamy. from the mass walkouts (not as mass as 2006) to the inappropriate behavior by young protesters and the police reaction under investigation. a day that was meant for young voices to be heard will be defined not by the cause, but by the aftermath.
to put things in perspective, yesterday was not only a day planned for student protests it was also election day for the city of long beach and other municipalities around california. civil disobedience should always be held secondary to the power of the democratic process (which actually exists at the local political level). the power to speak out in peaceable assembly is dwarfed by the power to elect, to ratify and to defeat. the absolute greatest right we have in the united states, the most expressive way we can make our voice heard is through our ballots.
i know this sounds like mindless banter and neo-political posturing; a plea by a pseudo-intellectual looking to carve a place of cyberspace out for himself. well it is. and it is not. the reality of the world we live in is that no matter how much we talk, how many protests are organized, and how much civil disobedience is devoted to a specific cause – it is not enough. everyone who has an internet connection can blog or wiki – can have a voice. but the very power and potential that this new age of media and information wields, is the very thing that is diluting the system.
in the years to come, yesterday will not be remembered for the message that was being championed – the cause that mobilized so many. rather it will be remembered for the childish acts of a few and the policies of the los angeles police department. the power to make your opinion known in a public forum has been diminished by the very forum itself. growing access to information is over saturation – content, analysis, critical thought; all lost to the quick fix to the sensational. a peaceful protest is not enough to turn heads, it has been done before – a near riot situation, now that grabs headlines.
so it came to pass on a day where people chose to try to make there voices heard about what is important to them choose a methodology that in and of itself is no longer sufficient to carry that voice. so what is left? the vote. in a day and age when everyone has something to say, and no one listens the only way we have left to is to share our voice in a different way. a way that counts and can be counted.
if you have a passion, if you have a cause, if you want to champion rights – do it at the poll, not just in the streets.
but as the day came to pass, at many poll locations at long beach – the efforts of the volunteers and city staff went unnoticed. in a polling district with nearly 5000 registered voters, twenty two asked that their voice be heard. in america it is an invisible minority that wields the power. not a minority of color, race, creed or sexual preference, but a minority of those that want their voice to be heard by silently marking an x in a box.