The last couple of weeks have been dominated by news of people demonstrating against the recent political developments in Britain and America. The Women’s March on 21st January on the American Embassy and yesterday’s march on London have grabbed headlines recently, while there have been ongoing murmurings about people protesting against Brexit for the last six months or so.
1.8 million people have signed a petition to withdraw the invitation to Donald Trump to make a state visit, while last year over 4 million people signed a petition to hold a second EU Referendum. A further 100,000 people turned out at the Women’s March in January, and I’m sure there are millions more around the world who have recently taken part in demonstrations against Trump or Brexit. Most of these people are applauded for ‘standing up for what they believe in’, but I would argue that what these people are doing is disrupting the course of democracy.
I completely accept that freedom of speech means people can speak out or demonstrate about anything that they want, and I would actively encourage this in certain situations. However, I find it ridiculous that people can be protesting against two democratic processes which, by definition, reflect the will of the people. Donald Trump was elected by a democratic process and Britain left the EU by a democratic referendum so I feel it is fundamentally wrong for people to protest against either of these things just because their preferred outcome didn’t win.
I can completely understand people being disappointed at Donald Trump’s election; I am disappointed myself. And I can certainly understand people protesting against the anti-Muslim executive order Trump tried to enforce, because people didn’t vote for any individual policies during the election. However, to demonstrate against the result of a democratic election or referendum is, in my view, plain wrong. Similarly, I do not think there is anything wrong with campaigning for a shake-up in the electoral system in America to combat the fact that a candidate with fewer votes could be elected, but any campaigning should be done before the election, not just on the back of the result.
All the protests and demonstrations will make no difference to the result of either democratic process, but just makes it harder for either country to get on and make the best of their situation. Continual denial of either result – especially the Brexit one – just makes it harder for the country as they have to deal with getting the bill past Parliament rather than on getting the best possible trade deal. Similarly, anti-Trump protesters only increase the uncertainty surrounding America at the moment and make it far more difficult for those in charge to help the country prosper.
Freedom of speech is undoubtedly a positive thing and should not be impeached. However, at the moment I feel people are taking too far, and are protesting against perfectly legitimate acts such as Donald Trump and Brexit. Not only does protesting needlessly have a detrimental effect on the country, which I am sure is not the aim of the protests, but it takes the focus away from protests which really matter. That is why I feel it is imperative that people accept the results of both the EU Referendum and the US Election and give Donald Trump and Theresa May a chance to do the best they can for their respective countries. By all means, people should stand up to individual policies they feel are wrong, but it is important to give leaders a chance before protesting otherwise nobody will ever be able to achieve anything in office.