ARE PROTESTS SUCCESSFUL IN INFLUENCING POLITICAL DECISION-MAKING?
Adam, his mother, and his grandmother are driving through town to run some errands when they are stopped at a police barricade. There is an anti-war demonstration happening. “Will you look at this?” his grandmother says, “Another bunch of protesters. Can’t they go protest somewhere else, where they aren’t blocking traffic?”
But Adam is curious. As his grandmother turns the car around, he takes a closer look at the signs the protesters are carrying: “No More U.S. War in the Middle East,” “Education, Not Bombs,” and “Bring our Soldiers Home Now!”
Adam isn’t sure how he feels about the political issue, but he does think the demonstrators are brave to speak up and say what’s on their minds, even if his grandmother is annoyed. Adam is sure that he’s seen pictures of protesters in his history textbook. “Grandma, weren’t there anti-war protesters in the past?”
“No, there weren’t, thank you very much,” she says. “Back when I was younger, people trusted their elected politicians to make the right decisions…especially when it comes to war. In fact, when I was growing up, our whole neighborhood supported the war effort.”
Adam’s mom spoke up and said, “Remember, all that changed during the Vietnam War. Maybe everybody was always on board with wars before that, but many people my age did not approve of America’s involvement in Vietnam. We expressed how strongly we felt about ending the war with protests just like this one.”
Now, Adam can’t help wondering – was his grandmother right? Was everyone in America totally in support of World War I? Adam thought back to his history books. It sure seemed like Americans lined up behind the politicians and supported the war. But was that really how it was?
Investigate the primary sources from the World War I era. Did Americans express their opinions on all sides of the issue, or were they largely in support of the war? How did people share their ideas about the war? Make your case.
Have your students take this challenge and make their case! To begin, send your students to this website with this challenge’s code.
A political protest is a public demonstration of disapproval related to the actions or policies of the government. Examples of protests include writing petitions or taking part in a march.