Citizen Protests

January 5, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 1
Do mass demonstrations lead to policy changes?
By Alan Greenblatt


Demonstrators at the massive Women's March on Washington (Cover: Getty Images/Barbara Alper)
Demonstrators at the massive Women's March on Washington, on Jan. 21, 2017, protest Donald Trump's election, which scholars say has triggered the largest demonstrations in recent memory. Other protests have erupted over Civil War monuments, alleged police brutality, immigration policy and the weakening of environmental protections. But some scholars question whether protests sway policymakers. (Cover: Getty Images/Barbara Alper)

Dissent has always been part of American politics, but scholars say Donald Trump's election has sparked a heightened era of protests reflecting the country's deep ideological polarization. Fueled by social media, demonstrations have arisen over Trump administration policies on such issues as health care, climate change and immigration. Meanwhile, alleged police brutality and the removal of Confederate monuments have aroused mass protests, some violent. And on college campuses, students have clashed over whether right- and left-wing provocateurs should speak at public forums. In addition to using street protests, conservatives for decades have turned to ballot measures to oppose abortion, and more recently the tea party movement rallied against the Affordable Care Act and other policies championed by former President Barack Obama. But experts say the size and stridency of today's protests are reminiscent of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s. Still, skeptics question whether street protests can change government policy, and some states are cracking down on protests that become disruptive or violent.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Protest Movements and Counter Culture
Jun. 05, 2020  Corporate Activism
May 01, 2020  Global Protest Movements
Jan. 05, 2018  Citizen Protests
Aug. 28, 1998  Student Activism
Jan. 04, 1991  The Growing Influence of Boycotts
Aug. 22, 1986  Student Politics 1980s Style
May 13, 1983  Christian Peace Movement
Apr. 08, 1970  Politics and Youth
Nov. 19, 1969  Challenges for The 1970s
Aug. 21, 1968  Reorganization of the Universities
Jan. 10, 1968  Universities and the Government
Jan. 03, 1968  Peace Movements in American Politics
Oct. 12, 1966  Alienated Youth
Feb. 24, 1966  Protest Movements in Time of War
May 19, 1965  Campus Unrest
Aug. 14, 1963  Mass Demonstrations
Dec. 11, 1957  Student Movements
Aug. 17, 1939  Conscientious Objection to War
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Civil Rights Movement
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Consumer Behavior
Crime and Law Enforcement
Domestic Issues
Freedom of Information
Freedom of Speech and Press
Hate Groups
Internet and Social Media
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
Race and Hate Crimes
Religious Freedom
Religious Movements
Student Movements