Home Election 2016 Post-Election Protests May Be a Troubling New Phenomenon in U.S. Politics

Post-Election Protests May Be a Troubling New Phenomenon in U.S. Politics


By David E. Hubler
Special Contributor, In Homeland Security

One week after Donald Trump’s upset victory in the 2016 presidential election, demonstrators across the country – many of them too young to vote – continue to take to the streets protesting the outcome.

Students, immigrants and members of various minorities have been demonstrating in Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere chanting, “Not My President.” There has been some violence and some arrests.

Protests and Demonstrations Have a Long History in U.S. Politics

Protests and demonstrations have long been a part of American political history. But they most often involved members of the same party fighting to select their favorite candidate to run for office. The newly formed Republican Party was at loggerheads in 1860, trying to find a presidential candidate. Luckily for the nation, they finally settled on Abraham Lincoln.

Sometimes a faltering economy or a depression has touched off demonstrations, like in 1896 when Republican William McKinley battled Democrat William Jennings Bryan.

Industrial/Financial Sector Fought Labor Unions after the Long Depression

“President McKinley’s election, which was right after the Depression [the so-called Long Depression from 1876 until 1896], there were lots of clashes with populists that supported the farm workers and the farming industry and people that supported more financial sector and trade,” Erica Chenoweth, an international relations professor at the University of Denver, told ABC News. “The major clashes were between industrial and financial sector supporters and labor union supporter types.”

Protests were “pretty routine in American politics” until the post-World War II period, Chenoweth said. But in the mid-1960s, protesters turned their ire at Democratic President Lyndon Johnson’s expansion of the war in Vietnam. Johnson chose not to run for re-election.

King, Kennedy Assassinations Preceded 1968 Chicago Riots

Protests turned into riots and arrests inside and on the streets of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Among the cited causes were the assassinations earlier that year of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

However, the ongoing anti-Trump demonstrations, now in their sixth day [Tuesday], are rare in the sense that they broke out after the election had been decided. According to various media, there have also been incidents of racism and minority harassment from middle and high school students to Ivy League undergraduates.

Immigrants and other minority groups that have been targets of Trump’s campaign promises of deportation, wall-building and other measures are fearful that he will turn his words into action once he takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017.

Trump tried to reassure the American people of his true intentions. Appearing on CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday evening, Trump appealed for calm. He told those who have been harassing and in some cases assaulting Muslims, blacks and members of the LGBTQ community to “stop it.”

So far, his appeal has yielded little discernable effect in quelling the protests.

About the Author

David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. In March 2017, Rowman & Littlefield will publish a paperback edition of David’s latest book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever.”



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