Thousands took to the streets again on Saturday, in another international march celebrating science’s role in society and advocating for continued funding and support for research.
From Australia to Washington D.C. to our very own St. Petersburg, people gathered, some in rain and some in sweltering heat. Like with the Women’s March, many were attempting to let their respective administrations know certain issues could not be ignored.
But the question remains: Is marching in mass really the best way to get policy enacted?
Some would argue it is pointless, that lawmakers will do whatever they want regardless of public opinion.
That logic is flawed.
Yes, lawmakers often disregard the public’s interest. But that is because they act in the interest of a stronger power. Money.
Money not only comfortably lines pockets, it also helps win elections. As much as politicians love lofty incomes, they love power more. And political power lies in being in office.
Policies that cripple institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute of Health are not policies that will benefit the public.
Luckily, in the U.S. no single branch of government can dictate the workings of the nation. We have checks and balances. Ideally, if the public is unhappy with one branch, they simply need to raise their voices to the other branches to get laws they want approved.
Realistically, the power of the people is a growing facade.
People can rant and rave, hold clever signs and start online petitions, but nothing truly changes. Politicians in Washington live in a bubble behind closed doors and barely even notice the muted chanting in the street.
And why should they?
If it’s not a presidential election year, people don’t turn up to the polls.
In November, when the public was asked to choose their next president, approximately 60 percent of the voting-eligible population cast a ballot. In 2014, only 36 percent showed up, according to the U.S. Elections Project.
Politicians only care about one thing: Getting re-elected. And the general public has proven they only show up once every four years.
However, it appears as if that may be beginning to change.
In January, millions of people across the globe united in the Women’s March. Now, three months later, thousands are still showing they are willing and ready to fight for what they believe in.
The March for Science wasn’t just a bunch of pissed off scientists in lab coats.
It was doctors, teachers, students and community members who are tired of seeing the Earth being destroyed, tired of being told we don’t have a cure for a variety of illnesses because there isn’t enough funding for research.
Yes there were scientists in bow ties waving signs with humorous math equations on them, but they weren’t there because they had nothing better to do with their weekend.
They are genuinely scared of what the future holds for our nation. And they believe the best way to resist is to march.
And thousands agreed. There were 610 marches planned worldwide. In St. Petersburg alone 2,000 to 5,000 people marched. In Washington D.C., tens of thousands poured into the streets despite the constant rain. Chicago and New York City faced similarly large crowds.
If we continue to raise our voices, our politicians will have to recognize we aren’t going away. Then they will have to make a decision. Gamble with our track record and assume we’re all talk, or actually make the changes we are demanding.
March all the way to the polls. Call their bluff. The power does still reside in the desires of the public. It’s time we force our government’s hand.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.