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  • We live in an age of protest.

  • On campuses and public squares,

  • on streets and social media,

  • protesters around the world are challenging the status quo.

  • Protest can thrust issues onto the national or global agenda,

  • it can force out tyrants,

  • it can activate people who have long been on the sidelines of civic life.

  • While protest is often necessary, is it sufficient?

  • Consider the Arab Spring.

  • All across the Middle East,

  • citizen protesters were able to topple dictators.

  • Afterwards, though,

  • the vacuum was too often filled by the most militant and violent.

  • Protest can generate lasting positive change

  • when it's followed by an equally passionate effort

  • to mobilize voters,

  • to cast ballots,

  • to understand government,

  • and to make it more inclusive.

  • So here are three core strategies for peacefully turning awareness into action

  • and protest into durable political power.

  • First, expand the frame of the possible,

  • second, choose a defining fight,

  • and third, find an early win.

  • Let's start with expanding the frame of the possible.

  • How often have you heard in response to a policy idea,

  • "That's just never going to happen"?

  • When you hear someone say that,

  • they're trying to define the boundaries of your civic imagination.

  • The powerful citizen works to push those boundaries outward,

  • to ask what if -

  • what if it were possible?

  • What if enough forms of power -

  • people, power, ideas, money, social norms -

  • were aligned to make it happen?

  • Simply asking that question

  • and not taking as given all the givens of conventional politics

  • is the first step in converting protest to power.

  • But this requires concreteness about what it would look like to have, say,

  • a radically smaller national government,

  • or, by contrast, a big single-payer healthcare system,

  • a way to hold corporations accountable for their misdeeds,

  • or, instead, a way to free them from onerous regulations.

  • This brings us to the second strategy, choosing a defining fight.

  • All politics is about contrasts.

  • Few of us think about civic life in the abstract.

  • We think about things in relief compared to something else.

  • Powerful citizens set the terms of that contrast.

  • This doesn't mean being uncivil.

  • It simply means thinking about a debate you want to have on your terms

  • over an issue that captures the essence of the change you want.

  • This is what the activists pushing for a $15 minimum wage in the U.S. have done.

  • They don't pretend that $15 by itself can fix inequality,

  • but with this ambitious and contentious goal,

  • which they achieved first in Seattle and then beyond,

  • they have forced a bigger debate about economic justice and prosperity.

  • They've expanded the frame of the possible, strategy one,

  • and created a sharp emblematic contrast, strategy two.

  • The third key strategy, then, is to seek and achieve an early win.

  • An early win, even if it's not as ambitious as the ultimate goal,

  • creates momentum,

  • which changes what people think is possible.

  • The solidarity movement,

  • which organized workers in Cold War Poland emerged just this way,

  • first, with local shipyard strikes in 1980 that forced concessions,

  • then, over the next decade,

  • a nationwide effort that ultimately helped topple

  • Poland's Communist government.

  • Getting early wins sets in motion a positive feedback loop,

  • a contagion, a belief, a motivation.

  • It requires pressuring policymakers,

  • using the media to change narrative,

  • making arguments in public,

  • persuading skeptical neighbors one by one by one.

  • None of this is as sexy as a protest,

  • but this is the history of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement,

  • of Indian Independence,

  • of Czech self-determination.

  • Not the single sudden triumph,

  • but the long, slow slog.

  • You don't have to be anyone special to be part of this grind,

  • to expand the frame of the possible,

  • to pick a defining fight,

  • or to secure an early win.

  • You just have to be a participant and to live like a citizen.

  • The spirit of protest is powerful.

  • So is showing up after the protest.

  • You can be the co-creator of what comes next.

We live in an age of protest.

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B1 US TED-Ed protest frame civic strategy citizen

【TED-Ed】How to turn protest into powerful change - Eric Liu

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    Sh, Gang (Aaron) posted on 2016/07/18
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