All Americans are concerned with the increasing political violence playing out in this year’s Presidential primaries. It feels like we are living in a third world country dominated by an oppressive political party or dictatorial leader. Not the vibrant freedom loving democracy we have been blessed with since 1776.

Protest is a staple of American politics.  Anytime our President Republican or Democrat goes anywhere to give a speech he or she is greeted by protesters of all stripes. Martin Luther King Jr reminded us all the greatest thing about America is the right to protest for rights.

Millennials must realize

Unfortunately what we see playing out in this year’s primaries goes beyond protest to straight out VIOLENCE ! Political violence masking itself as protest, political violence masking itself as free speech.  Millennials on the right and left didn’t live through the non-violent protest of the 1960’s. They don’t realize the very real difference between protest and political violence.

Protest shows up to oppose but always respects the rights of the opposition violence does not. Protest shows up to join the program drawing attention to its own opposing views, violence shows up to disrupt and shut down the program.

The first blurring of the line between political protest and political violence can be traced back to Black Lives Matter. This bold and courageous movement led by millennial Americans has been misinformed on how to protest and the difference between  political protest and political violence.

Black Lives Matter protesters interrupt Senator Bernie Sanders while he is speaking

Denied ability to speak

Black Lives Matter protesters at rallies for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton started the new practice of jumping on the stage while they were speaking. The protesters would stand in front of them shouting out their own speech and denying Clinton or Sanders the ability to speak.

Due to the rightness of their cause the candidates allowed them the stage and the media gave them huge coverage. The cause is 100% correct the methodology was and is 100% wrong. In fact its both physical and political violence.  Dr. King taught us non-violence is not merely the

Senator Sanders has to leave the stage of his own rally because they won’t let him speak

absence of physical assault. Denying anyone the right of free speech at their own rally is violent. He also advised us that violence does nothing but lead to escalating violence and that’s where we find ourselves today.

Brutally beaten

Black Lives Matter showed up at Donald Trump rallies attempting the same tactics. This was met with violent escalation. Not only were they prevented from taking the stage, Donald Trump got violent by verbally assaulting them. The protesters were brutally beaten by people in the crowd who thought they were protecting their right of free expression.

They were determined that Black Lives Matter would not deny Donald Trump from speaking,  like they had denied Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. This violence inside the rallies spread like cancer outside to the streets. Regardless of how it started both sides are wrong and should cease fire immediately.

I point out the genesis of this to drive home the point violence begets violence. It does not work in our civil discourse. It can’t be allowed even in the most well-meaning instance. Not even in the case of Black Lives Matter who are using it to amplify a very just cause. But a righteous end can’t justify the violent road taken to that righteous end.

Can’t vote

A cease fire does not mean no more protest. It does mean that if you get into a Trump rally you stand in silence while holding your “Dump Trump” sign. You position yourself in an effort not to block anyone’s view of him and you leave with no resistance when asked to. In the public space outside you are free to continue to hold your sign and even make a speech of your own if you like.

The silver lining in all of this is that passions are high on all sides. I would encourage all to make sure that in the midst of all the political protesting one is not putting the cart before the horse. Unfortunately this is the case for some protesters and the Trump kids. They are not properly registered to vote therefore will be denied the right to exercise the ultimate act of power, casting the ballot.