Jeffrey wrote (snip), “Perhaps better questions (just, perhaps) is why did Facebook so quickly change because a bunch of people complained online” while worldwide protests did not stop the war, etc.
The difference was the cause and effect chain is clear: While we can live without Facebook, (someone else would rise to take our ‘business’) Facebook cannot sell advertising if they don’t have us. In fact, for all we know, their advertising contracts have minimum numbers agreements, and they’d be liable for re-payments. Or at the very least, it would allow cancellations of agreements, and no future money that they have already spent.
In other words, they had something to lose, and caved.
Bush had nothing to lose pushing the war, or his (highly suspect) win in Florida. In fact, he was OUT if he didn’t push it.
So his will to ‘stay in the game’ was greater than the public will. Had the LEVEL of protest (as was seen in London) continued, Britain would have folded tents earlier. Had the American public protested Florida (which they likely would have, had the Supreme Court not ILLEGALLY stepped in,) the Republicans would have realized they were risking future chances.
So – public protests work – but they work much quicker on items that can be quantified: Dollars lost in the short term.
Public protests also work in the long term (Civil Rights, VietNam, India / Ghandi) but generally ONLY when the financial pinch is felt. Consider: The Civil Right’s first big success was seating on buses – and it was the FINANCIAL (the boycott) that carried the day. In India, it was the boycotts that got the businesses, finally. Public protest wins.
Viet Nam protests finally forced Johnson to retire – he could not face the unpopularity after Cronkite told the nation he couldn’t see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ the government had been declaring was there for years. Public protest wins.
Nixon continued – until the revolt after the Cambodian invasion / Kent State forced his generals and his advisors to tell him, ‘we can’t do it this way – we can’t take the unrest at home.’ Public protest wins.
(Though Nixon then set about poisoning the wells, sowing seeds of ill will with his ‘Southern Strategy.’)
The Obama election is also the result of ‘Protest wins’ – Bush and ANYTHING related to him was going out in ’08. Which is why Hillary fought so long because like Obama, she knew the ‘protest’ vote was there.
Think public protest doesn’t win? Strikes are really public protests. (Which, gee, the rise of Union’s RIGHT to strike, coincide with the rise of the American middle class. They made higher wages a reality and thus MADE the American middle class possible!) Strikes fail if they can’t force the business to stop producing (original idea of a strike) or failing that, to get the consumers to stop BUYING the goods. It is a ‘protest’ as well… though we don’t identify it as such since the 1960’s.
Public protests can win – but they have to define what is a victory, or they can’t sustain it long enough to have an impact.
(Gee – I do go on. And I cut out another third of this! Sorry.)