Conflict exhaustion or democracy renaissance? The age of in-your-face activism

Oct 11, 2018 by

Why We Wrote This

Democracies aim to turn political passions into protests and activism. Living through such a time, however, draws on civic reservoirs of patience and goodwill.

By Jessica Mendoza – 

On the day before the Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building plays host to both opponents and supporters of the beleaguered justice. Alison Turkos, a rape survivor who spent the days leading up to the vote confronting senators in and around Washington, says she has no intention of slowing down her activism. It’s the only way to get lawmakers to listen, she says. Laura Murphy, who came to the Capitol to rally behind Justice Kavanaugh, calls the harrying of lawmakers shameful. Liberal protesters, she says, have no respect for authority or civil discourse. Welcome to the new normal: a potent mix of public outrage, political polarization, and broadband-speed publicity combining to create a deeply partisan protest culture that is seeping into every corner of American life. American democracy was always built to allow space for dissident and minority groups to air their grievances. The question now is whether the current period of highly charged political engagement will result in a stronger democracy or further split people apart. “Seeing people be politically involved is a very good thing,” says Diana Mutz, a politics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s just unfortunate that the grounds of consensus have become so small.”

Source: Conflict exhaustion or democracy renaissance? The age of in-your-face activism –

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