I’ve not really protested much in my life. I’ve always found them quite pointless.
As a signalling device protests are quite lacking. No matter the size it’s only a subset of the population. This isn’t too meaningful as there’s an equally large, rabid subset of the population that believe anything and everything.
Grouping the most motivated people together isn’t a great signal either of larger animation or changing tides. It’s about as convincing as pointing to the membership of any one political party and using that as justification for a policy position.
Similarly, even the most well attended protest is unlikely to contain the voting population required to swing a seat. Constituencies represented by politicians who already agree are likely over-represented among protesters. The rest are likely spread so thin among constituencies as to not constitute a meaningful margin.
But it’s questionable how much my cynicism could also be the result of manipulation. Again from This Is Not Propaganda:
In a world where even the most authoritarian regimes struggle to impose censorship, one has to surround audiences with so much cynicism about anybody’s motives, persuade them that behind every seemingly benign motivation is a nefarious, if impossible-to-prove, plot, that they lose faith in the possibility of an alternative, a tactic a renowned Russian media analyst called Vasily Gatov calls ‘white jamming’…
…And the end effect of this endless pile-up of conspiracies is that you, the little guy, can never change anything. For if you are living in a world where shadowy forces control everything, then what possible chance do you have of turning it around? In this murk it becomes best to rely on a strong hand to guide you.
This particular passage is obviously talking about the “deep state” end of the spectrum. But the overall notion still holds. Cynicism can be fostered. And the fruitlessness it engenders can be an impediment to political action. Don’t suppress yourself.