Lately, when there is a protest in this country I see a lot of rhetoric repeated connecting, or rather disconnecting, the protestors to the disaffected people that voted for Donald Trump. Often it’s said “These people probably don’t have jobs,” and “That’s why we want Trump, we are tired for paying for everyone else to live.”
But is that true? Are people burdened by jobless vagabonds sucking tax dollars out of the system? Are protestors jobless hippies? Is welfare even a drain on society? Well I went through the data and here is what I found:

People who defraud the welfare system, or even people that are honestly but wholly supported by it are rare. Meaning most of the people protesting have jobs.

Here are some facts, something missing from the discourse from the opponents of welfare. 

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A minuscule amount of people do defraud the system, and that is already illegal. Millions of people defraud the tax system, where is the outrage there? What about Trump’s “losses” that allowed him to not pay taxes for 20 years? Should we we subsidize bad investments?
You say protestors aren’t working, and on welfare because it makes it easier for you disassociate from the protest.

The urge to separate yourself from these protests is understandable, I really do get it. You’re relatively happy, right?  You go to work, you pay your taxes. You aren’t protesting, why are they? However, baseless assumptions like “They probably don’t have jobs.” are intellectually lazy, and not true at all. I’ve helped organize several protests, I am a community organizer and every protest I’ve been in was loaded with good people, who have jobs, and pay taxes, and who are pissed (like you are) that their tax dollars are being spent in ways they don’t agree with, or that their rights are being trampled. Sometimes they just feel like the system failed them, like now.

We can’t allow ourselves to dismiss protests we find shocking by debasing the people taking part. “Oh look more people without jobs.” It’s just not true. Try saying “They took time away from their jobs to make their voices heard.” Does assuming that these people have jobs and families, but are taking time away to protest something they are passionate about suddenly lend a feeling of credibility to what they’re doing? Is that maybe why the knee-jerk reaction is to say they don’t have jobs? 

The truth is that welfare and “social entitlement programs” are important parts of working life for millions of people. Low wages, which are a big part of these protests, are the real culprit. Protests are the foundation of all free societies. They allow people whom may not have a strong voice in government to be heard. They have expanded rights for all Americans, time, and time again. You are the benefitting from protests right now. Your 40 Hour work week, your weekends off, civil rights, unions, religious freedom, democracy, women’s right to vote, the human rights movement, the United States of America… all started with protests. Every one of those protests featured dramatic outcries of dissent from the majority of the population. Suffragettes were called “Whores”, Civil rights leaders, and Unionizers were called “Communist Agitators” among the other expletives used to describe them. Recently I have been hearing Democracy compared to Communism …really Becky? Communism?

Protests almost always contain an amount of violence, especially destruction of property. There were lots people that were disgusted by the destruction of a shipment of tea in the Boston Harbor, would you prefer that they hadn’t destroyed private property? Suffragettes busted open barrels of whiskey, and beer. History is always so much kinder to protestors than those not involved with the protest. For instance, can you think of one historical protest that people don’t celebrate today?

Trump supporters are tired, yes, and these protestors are too. They’re tired of fighting for equal rights. They’re tired of fighting for freedom. They’re tired of seeing their loved ones in prison. They’re tired of things like conversion therapy, war, poverty, and income inequality. They’re tired of working for 40 hours every week, and living in poverty. Most of all, they are tired of racism. Institutional, personal, systematic, all of it. They aren’t going to rebel in ways we find palatable, that is too easy to ignore. They are going to do it in ways that make you uncomfortable, and they should.