Why America needs The Protest Party

I won’t use this space to try to convince you that the status quo of American governance is a horror show. There are plenty of other places on the internet to find such information, and besides, if you are reading this you probably already know that the current system is unacceptable. Instead, I will briefly explain why whatever you are doing to help the situation (if anything) is not as worthwhile as supporting the Protest Party.

Individual Americans exercising their right to vote have a vanishingly small chance of affecting the outcome of a presidential or even congressional election. Worse, it is rare for the two major candidates to disagree on many of the most significant issues facing the country. Even on those issues where they do disagree, mysterious forces seem to hold sway, preventing our elected officials from enacting their agendas. (Well, these forces are not really so mysterious when you consider how electoral campaigns work.) These factors combine to make voting an exercise in futility.

Meanwhile, alternative modes of affecting federal policy are similarly ineffectual. Some of us participate in advocacy groups, pouring enormous amounts of our time and energy into producing some small chance of improving one of a plethora of urgent situations. Meanwhile, the system remains corrupt, producing new horrors faster than advocacy groups can suppress them. Some of us blog or post our opinions to Facebook, but these become echo chambers. Either we are preaching to the choir or our “Friends,” who roll their eyes and scroll past our posts. Even prominent pundits get tuned out by nearly everyone except those who already agree with them. A few of us go a step further and join street demonstrations or protests. These are roundly ignored by the media unless there is some violence or arrests - a mighty high price to pay for some small chance of making a tiny difference in the country’s governance. As with voting, the rational course of action is probably to simply stay at home. And this is exactly what Americans tend to do.

And yet America is supposed to be a Democracy, a government of, by, and for the People. If we Americans are mostly abandoning our roles as the legitimizing and guiding forces behind our government, then who or what exactly is guiding our policy in our stead? And what type of government are we living under?

With 10% congressional approval, America is on the precipice of a crisis of legitimacy. Strikingly, the thing that keeps us from going over the edge is that we Americans don’t appreciate our role in this story. If we ever bother to glance at our putrid government, we simply shrug and ask, “What’s that got to do with me?” Well, collectively, we are our government.

Our votes, individually, do not carry much weight. Collectively, though, our votes carry more weight than the hundreds of millions of dollars that pour into campaigns. Our elected officials fret over their polling data and are always looking for ways to capture the votes of new segments of society. The system is set up to poach large segments of the vote regardless of the consequences. The Protest Party is designed to use these forces to its advantage. We will form a coalition of voters and agree on a demand. When the system comes looking for votes, we will tell them what they need to do to get them. Until we threaten to withhold the one thing we have left that the system still respects us for, we should expect to be ignored. Like always.

To do nothing is to abandon our democracy. To vote for the existing parties is to get more of the same. To protest in the streets is, for most of us, simply not worth the physical, mental, and financial costs. To vote for the Protest Party, however, is to give our democracy one last fighting chance without any of the high costs associated with demonstrating on the streets. All you need to do is vote. But first, we need to get the Protest Party on the ballot in as many states as possible (particularly in swing states where the system values votes most highly). Click on the “Get Involved” tab to learn how you can help.