Last year, I submitted a piece to the Chimes arguing that desire paths, the dirt paths created by student’s repeated use of non-paved routes, constituted a passive form of collective protest. This week, I returned to campus and delightfully noticed that the desire path that intersected the paths to Renner and the CMC was paved with brick, confirming my original thesis.
I commend the students and faculty of Capital University for participating in the subversive task of walking where they ought not have and making a lasting difference to this campus, but the power of organized outrage does not end with desire paths.
Many of us are still reeling from the events of Nov. 8, especially those who belong to marginalized groups and have a lot to lose from a Trump presidency. While many call for unity, the sting of this presidential campaign and the hateful rhetoric used by Trump stand in contradiction to this call.
In listening to the testimony of these marginalized people, it seems patently absurd to ask them to put aside the fear instilled by this rhetoric in blind hope that the president-elect won’t follow through on his promises. While the recent comments by post-election Trump are indeed less divisive, those who feel threatened by his ascension have no more reason to trust his word, as Trump ran a campaign that held very little regard for the truth or falsehood of his statements.
Since Nov. 8, the nation has seen widespread protests of Trump’s electoral victory. They have varied in location, scope, intention and organization, and have been frequently dismissed by those optimistic in American democracy and the benevolence of our president-elect.
To those who believe these protests are petty or childish, and to those who may feel alienated by this election, I ask that you attend one before casting them aside. I have participated in two since Nov. 8, and I can report that they are the only element of hope in this post-Trump political climate.
On Friday, Nov. 11, I joined at least 500 people outside OSU’s Thompson Library. The protest was organized by Reclaim OSU, a coalition of organizations that made news when they occupied OSU’s administration building last spring.
A diverse group of students and activists spoke from the megaphone that day, making clear the intersectional nature of the cause. They spoke of Black Lives Matter; LGBTQ+ rights; Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions; rape culture; Islamophobia; the environment; the rights of undocumented workers; the cause of socialism and the way in which Trump’s rhetoric affects the nation’s school children.
While these issues are often addressed in separate channels, the speakers and audience members were united in their understanding that their grievances will not be willingly addressed by a Trump presidency and Republican congress. They rejected the empty calls for unity from Trump and the Democratic establishment wholeheartedly, coming together instead in solidarity with one another.
Following the speeches, the protesters marched down High Street and occupied the intersection between 12th and High.
An organizer polled the protesters to discover that, for the vast majority, it was their first time protesting. I was surprised to see so many fresh hands in the crowd, but it encouraged me that so many felt that they had a duty to stand up and speak out against the rhetoric of Trump.
These are the earliest days of the Trump presidency, and no specific policies have emerged that we can voice opposition to. Despite many critics’ assertions, however, this does not undermine the need to organize and protest. Building grassroots movements takes time and energy, and having an existing organized body will always be advantageous in the long run.
If the day comes when the Trump administration sets its sights on Roe v Wade, undocumented workers, the rights of LBGTQ+ individuals, or refuses to address the problems of mass incarceration and police violence, it is imperative that we citizens be there to resist. This cannot be done in reaction, but must instead be proactive by getting into organizing now, while solidarity remains strong amongst the afraid and dejected American populace.
Protests and mass action work, and these historic fights have granted numerous political and social freedoms that we take advantage of today. It is difficult to dispute the legitimacy of this election, but it is important to assert that a democratic lifestyle takes place 24 hours a day. By using the power of mass action in conjunction with the ballot box, we are in a better position than ever to resist hateful and divisive policies and demand that our elected officials listen to the experiences of the marginalized.
While not all will agree with me on the need for organized mass action, I think there is a universal imperative that we ask more of ourselves in this new political climate. Some of my friends are volunteering in response to Trump, others are immersing themselves in new communities, and all of us ought to be keeping a watchful eye on local politics.
After this apathetic election, any action to make a better society is a good one. While we may not all agree on the means to that end, it is imperative that we stand in solidarity with each other, especially with those who have little hope in the traditional political structures.
Nick Bochenek is a senior philosophy and history major, president of Philosophy Club and the Socialist Student Union, who plans to attend grad school in philosophy after graduation.