If those opposing a certain political candidate or personality didn’t line up on sidewalks shaking signs and screaming chants, how could they still be seen and heard?
Various forms of that question have arrived in my inbox over the past week, responses to a comment I made at the June 29 Pints and Politics event. When asked about protesters during President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Cedar Rapids, I lamented that Iowans against Trump and/or the current GOP agenda weren’t more “creative” and “constructive” in voicing their displeasure.
“If we don’t choose to take a stand directly outside or near the venue,” a reader said, “it will appear to the media and the rest of our community that there is no resistance. It will be presented as if all Iowans agree because the only people who will have a voice will be supporters attending these events.”
I believe there are many ways to get a point across that don’t involve in-person confrontation, but I will admit that doing something more constructive than naming a place and time to come and scream takes planning.
For instance, what if those who were upset about the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to Meals on Wheels either pledged money to the program or made arrangements to serve as volunteers?
Those concerned about the GOP push to defund Planned Parenthood could put together a local fundraiser to be held at the same time as the political rally, making sure those helped by the organization are ready and willing to tell their stories.
And, for something more Cedar Rapids-centric and cost-free, why not create a human wall along the banks of the Cedar River to highlight the community’s continued vulnerability to flooding?
Since Trump is the 45th U.S. president, why not spend the day tutoring 45 at-risk kids, or showcasing 45 pets from the animal shelter? Environmentalists could plant 45 trees, or place 45 vegetable plants in a community garden.
Have local artists construct a panel of people with their back turned and include a message at the bottom that says while Politician X holds another self-serving party, people who care about this community continue to struggle. Maybe highlight how those who rely on public transportation couldn’t attend, and how relatively little the federal government contributes to public transit.
Research area bridges, then hang banners over their sides highlighting their level of disrepair. Be sure to note that Iowa leads the nation in deficient bridges, and that Congress has yet to take up the infrastructure bill Trump promised in his victory speech.
Those are only a few ideas. Choose something that’s important to you or your group and spend some time deciding how you could make it important to others. Then, advertise the activity. Put it on social media, email some news releases, invite the public.
Let’s save the marches, signs and chants for moments when we need or want to network with like-minded people, or when elected officials are preparing to vote and should see a show of force.
This column by Lynda Waddington originally published in The Gazette on July 8, 2017. Photo credit: Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette