Daniel Q. Gillion, The Loud Minority: Why Protests Matter In American Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020. Viii + 207 pages. Hardcover, $29.95.

Authorda Cruz, Joshua Kohler
PositionArticle 8

The Loud Minority, written by political scientist Dr. Daniel Gillion of the University of Pennsylvania, is a fantastic work that seeks to answer big questions in the field of American intellectual history. Primarily, the work focuses on answering two questions. First, who are the agents of change in the US political landscape? And second, how do those with agency affect to change in real time? Gillion sets out to answer these questions through the use of empirical data to show, as the title states, why protests matter in American democracy. Gillion argues that protestors are the "canaries in the coal mines for future political and electoral change" (p. 7) because political protests can alert politicians of a changing tide or an issue that is rising in importance (p. 169). This is highlighted by the ongoing Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and calls for defunding the police. Messages such as those communicated by protestors and activists, Gillion argues, are effectively to mobilize the masses and inform the electorate thereby causing social change (p. 29). Gillion also notes that though protestors do operate in the realm of the divide between the two political parties in the US, they are not adding to the divide (p. 190). This distinction is critical in his analysis because it shows that protestors themselves are not causing the divide in America. Rather they should be viewed as an effect of divisiveness. In other words, protests are a mere symptom of inequality, disagreement, and the lack of opportunity to effect change outside of the electoral system.

Gillion publishing this book in 2020 with the title "The Loud Minority" is no coincidence either. Gillion shines a light on the racist roots of the "silent majority" dog whistle by drawing parallels between former President Nixon calling upon Whites to take power back from Blacks with President Donald Trump's revival of the same rhetoric (p. 3). The issues of race relations are identified several times throughout this work, primarily in the distinction between protesters. Gillion stresses that while obviously protests can happen on both sides of the aisle, liberal protests have a common theme of fighting for all forms of equality throughout history (p. 58). This, paired with the fact that African Americans have the greatest sense of linked fate in the nation, means that a liberalization of the American political tradition would garner more African American support (p. 34). This does not mean...

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