This is a frequently asked question, posed by both those in and outside the activist movement, a question that I often asked myself, and, in full disclosure, as this is my journal, this entry is as much, if not more for me than anyone else who may or may not read it.
I spent yesterday morning with about 10,000 other people standing in the rain.. We yelled, shouted, and waved our signs, and sometimes, I have to wonder for what.
What do demonstrations accomplish? When I was in the DC area we would protest the capitol and the White House -- on a Saturday. I could understand wanting to obstruct regular business as occurred when the Rutgers walk-out closed down one side of Rt. 18 last year, but most of these don't. They don't change legislation, and they seldom seem to change the way our legislators vote. My first demonstration was just before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. A went with a group from my church. Close to half a million people showed up to proclaim their opposition to this illegal and awful war.
Turns out we were right, for whatever thats worth.
So why do I still go to these things?
Aside from feeling like part of something and knowing that others feel the same way. I know that letter writing, hassling congressmen, etc is more effective (yes, I do that too), but this is far more energizing, and reminds that we are not alone.
A friend of mine was on the organizing committee of the Campus Anti-War Network. I asked him what his point is?
The first of course is that feeling of togetherness, and unity.
Next, is for networking. Connections help keep a stronger movement with more voices. Similarly, its gets new people out and keeps them out. It makes them unified with other groups.
It also lets different movements know what other movements are doing -- student groups, labor groups, women's groups, etc. and also lets different groups know what other group are doing (or that they exist) if they aren't on mailing lists.
So is it worth it, yes. It reminds us and the world that we are part of something and that we are here. It helps us stay motivated and brings out new people, lets us know what others and doing, and if nothing else, makes us a bit of an inconvenience.