We think of Sierra Thomas: At Vox, someone commissioned a survey about the violence at Trump events.
Vox's report about its survey was done by a scribe in her first year out of college. Presumably, that's good for Ezra's bottom line. But her report about Vox's survey is very poorly reasoned.
For that reason, we'll start with Kevin Drum's account, which brings the eternal note of sadness in. Who does the public blame for the violence at Trump's events?
According to the survey by Vox, the public doesn't blame Trump:
DRUM (3/24/16): A few days ago I suggested that a key question about the protests at Trump rallies was who the public blamed for the violence. Well, Vox conducted a survey recently asking exactly that, and it turns out that Trump is winning that contest too. Overall, respondents thought that protesters were responsible for the violence in Chicago by a margin of 54-28 percent.So you'll know, here's the question to which respondents responded, along with the possible answers from which respondents chose:
That's a pretty big margin.
Bottom line: Only committed partisans and (barely) young voters are taking the protesters' side on this. Seems like maybe they need a new strategy.
The survey question from Vox:Respondents favored "protesters were responsible," 54-28. Drum offers a chart which breaks it down demographically. For what it's worth, 37 percent of Democrats favored that naughty response.
As you may know, Donald Trump recently cancelled a campaign event in Chicago, Illinois, after hundreds of protesters showed up at the event. After the event was cancelled, several fights broke out between protesters and Trump supporters. Which of the following comes closest to your opinion, even if neither is exactly right?
Protestors were responsible for the violence. If they wanted to protest peacefully, they should have done so outside rather than provoking Trump supporters.
Protestors were NOT responsible for the violence. They should not be punished for exercising their right to protest.
Don’t Know / No Opinion
Why did people respond that way? We can't answer that.
The question asserts that protesters "provoked Trump supporters" in some way. As with the hapless report by the youthful Vox scribe, it doesn't seem like the world's most skillfully crafted question.
Still and all, this brings us back to a basic political problem. Increasingly, we the liberals are turning our political movements over to very young, highly inexperienced people.
Such people will often have poor political judgment. This doesn't mean that they're bad people. It means that they're young and inexperienced. It also means this:
Most people have no particular skill as political strategists!
The civil rights movement lay in the hands of people who were morally and intellectually brilliant. Some of these people became world famous. Most of these people remain unknown.
There is zero reason to think that leaders of today's youth movements will show comparable brilliance in their political judgments. This brings us back to Sierra Thomas, the 21-year-old college student who wrote this piece in the Washington Post's Outlook section last Sunday.
This country is full of terrific young people. It sounds to us like Thomas is one of those people.
That doesn't mean she has good political judgment, or access to wise leadership. This is what she says she did after she decided she had to respond to Trump:
THOMAS (3/20/16): I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t just sit and watch someone who is trying to be our president incite violence. I could not let the progress people have made in learning to love and accept one another go to waste. Trump is playing on the emotions and fears of this country to serve himself. His defenders say his campaign has nothing to do with racism, but what I saw and heard in Fayetteville—and what’s happened at other events—prove they’re wrong.Sierra Thomas turned to a leader you've never heard of. There may be a very good reason for that. He seems to have zero track record, at least as far as can be learned from a search of the web.
I grew increasingly upset, frustrated and appalled. I decided at that very moment that I would protest at the nearest and soonest rally. I went to Trump’s website and saw that there would be one in Fayetteville the following week. I ordered a ticket.
I looked all over Facebook for protest groups that would be attending the rally and came across a post by a man named Jonathan Talley, who wrote about needing more protesters. He already had more than 100, though, and since this was my first time protesting, I felt safer knowing I’d have people there backing me up. I was a little nervous, because my parents didn’t want me to go. They made sure I was well aware of the danger and the consequences I might face. But I was determined not to let fear stop change, and knowing that I’d have people supporting me throughout the whole thing gave me courage.
Talley may be a great person too. Once again, that doesn't mean he has sound political judgment.
The "protesters" at Trump's events have been getting a major break from the press. The fact that they keep interrupting/disrupting his speeches has been widely obscured and disappeared by many major orgs.
Still, the word does get around–and on the whole, people don't like the idea of people disrupting speeches. People who are 21 may or may not know this.
Sierra Thomas went to the rally. Here's part of what she described:
THOMAS: The organizers’ plan was for demonstrators to go into the event separately and sit by ourselves, so we wouldn’t attract attention and could pop up at different times to interrupt Trump. I walked inside and made small talk with the people sitting next to me, even though almost every second sitting there waiting was a challenge. They were very friendly, up until the moment I started protesting. Throughout the afternoon, I was texting with Talley, and he helped me calm down and stay strong, saying, “Don’t let them shake you, and don’t be scared.”Everyone was very friendly! Then she stood up, interrupted their event, and began to yell at them.
In her own words, she did this because "I could not let the progress people have made in learning to love and accept one another go to waste." People, we're just saying!
We're so old that we can recall when another generation of self-assured youth helped put Nixon and Reagan in place. Dr. King and Mrs. Parks and them were morally and intellectually brilliant. They routinely displayed brilliant judgment.
Most of us lack their astonishing brilliance. It's helpful when we lesser beings understand such facts.