The recent protests that have broken out across the United States and around the world have been unlike any other in recent memory. My research team and I have collected data on demonstrators in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC, and found that 54% of the participants were white - a stark contrast to the large-scale protests that were considered the hallmark of progressive activism against President Donald Trump and his policies. Public opinion data collected since the protests began also shows a strong support for the movement, with two-thirds of Americans backing it. This support is particularly strong among those who identify as Democrats.
Our data collected on the streets during these protests also shows a partisan divide as to who comes to participate, with 80% identifying as left-wing. Given the partisan divide in perspectives on participation in protests, there are few opportunities to channel street outrage into political achievements at the national level using the political levers of legislation or executive order. Instead, the best opportunities for social change that are taking place within the current political system are the upcoming elections in November. The increase in global protests is becoming a major trend in international politics.
However, it is important to note that these protests vary greatly in terms of their causes and consequences. Even when protests begin as the work of activists who are not associated with established political groups, if they achieve any success they can enter formalized political life, even forming political parties and running for public office. Economic factors seem to have played only a secondary role in many of these cases, although in Venezuela economic discontent has been a powerful motivation that has driven recent protests. Some protest movements have appeared in various places, but many share similar forms and methods with articulated leadership, very specific programmatic demands, and close links with both political parties and existing NGOs. The superficial resemblance between these events can lead to general conclusions about what is happening.
However, it is important to note that each protest movement is unique and must be analyzed on its own terms. Political factors seem to have been the main cause of most recent protests in semi-authoritarian contexts while economic factors have been more prominent in democratic states. While some protest movements have failed to translate the energy of protest into sustained political commitment, others have made progress in this regard. A wave of protests contributed to the start of democratic transition attempts in dozens of countries in the 1980s and 1990s. In contrast to this pattern of economic growth in many parts of the developing and post-communist world, economic stagnation and sudden recessions in some countries have also contributed to an increase in protests. Today's wave of protests is, in part, a reflection of citizens' fatigue in the face of corruption, a legacy of the global financial crisis, and a widespread rejection of economic austerity.
Political flow has replaced political transition as the contemporary currency of political change, with a flow defined by risk, unpredictability, mutability, and multiplicity. As an expert on this topic, I believe it is important to understand how these protests are impacting politics around the world. It is clear that these protests are different from those of the past due to their diversity and widespread support from people across all demographics. It is also important to note that while some protest movements have failed to translate their energy into sustained political commitment, others have made progress towards achieving their goals. It is essential for citizens to understand how their actions can impact politics both locally and globally. By understanding how these protests are impacting politics around the world, citizens can make informed decisions about how they can best use their voices to create positive change.