dude, where’s my protest?
Pacific Standard had an article on where the antiwar movement went. They interviewed me, because of the 2011 article on how Obama chilled out the antiwar movement. A few clips:
About the same time I met the Egyptian protester, early 2011, University of Indiana sociologist Fabio Rojaswon headlines with a study that appeared to answer the question. Rojas found it curious that despite unpopular wars underway in at least two countries (Iraq, Afghanistan) or perhaps four (Pakistan, Yemen) or five (Somalia) or six (Libya), the U.S. had no meaningful anti-war movement. So with colleague Michael T. Heaney, Rojas had looked at attendance at anti-war rallies from 2004 onward. To his surprise, he found that attendance at public anti-war demonstrations had continued more strongly than generally assumed until 2008.
After President Obama took office in 2009, however, attendance in anti-war rallies crashed, even though Obama pursued many of the war policies from the Bush administration.
Initially, the cause seemed to be that the U.S. economy tanked then, and priorities turned elsewhere. But Rojas’ data also suggested that distraction wasn’t the whole story.
“The theory is, in politics you have a choice. You can care about the policy, or you can care about the political party,” Rojas said. “The partisan says, ‘He’s my guy. If I’m really that unhappy about him, I should go make his life miserable.’”
But the anti-war movement decided not to focus on elections. “The anti-war movement has always taken on a counter-cultural stance. They’re really scared of being co-opted by the system in some way,” Rojas said. “And working in politics forces you to get out of your comfort zone.”
Conservative activists, meanwhile, did turn their focus to primary elections—and succeeded. “The person who, say, is a member of the Ladies’ Republican Club says, ‘I’m going to go down to the Republican primary in Indiana and I’m going to vote for somebody else.’”
Check it out.