I’ve made a lot of money as a paid protester. Not enough to quit my day job. But enough that I can afford to take my family to a nice dinner at Red Lobster once a week. Let me put it this way, I don’t sweat the price of gas.
However, many don’t appreciate the realities of getting up early, driving to the subway, waiting for the red line, then dealing with crowds of people in order to receive a paycheck. Let me explain to you the tribulations of paid protest work:
1. IT’S EXTREMELY COMPLICATED
Think anyone can just “become” a paid protester? Think again. It’s not like the gig is advertised on Monster. Even Craigslist would be too obvious. Most of us who fell into paid protest labor thought we were applying for something else.
You ever see somebody comment on a blog or article something like “My sister makes $6,000 a month and so can you!”? Most of us replied to that comment and were eventually contacted by the organization who had to use a series of complex “roundabout” questions to gauge our interest level in feigning interest in social justice for pay.
Questions like, “If you were to show up to Pershing Square Saturday holding a sign that says ‘Impeach Trump’ and happened to receive a check in your mailbox the next day that you would never, ever tell anybody about would you be interested in heading to Michael’s for some poster board and sharpie markers after this call?” help the organization determine which candidates can pursue paid protesting with discretion.
Since not a single one of us has actually been caught receiving payment in exchange for protest attendance, we have to follow an extremely intricate and complex series of processes that ensure our little secret is safe. If anyone could actually prove what we’re doing, it would blow the lid off the Left’s entire guise of having massive support and our network would be at risk. Loose lips sink what is the greatest conspiracy in the history of the world.
This means that everything from tax records, bank statements, and even litigation has to be dealt with in private via a massive scale. Think protesters don’t get injured? Don’t get sick? Don’t have issues with other protesters? Worker’s comp claims, insurance claims, and claims of sexual harassment, all of which are regulated, have to be complied with and managed via a network of thousands of doctors and lawyers who have all pledged their quiet allegiance to the organization. God forbid a protester gets tennis elbow holding up their “This is what democracy looks like” sign and decides to sue in public.
2. YOU HAVE TO MAINTAIN A COVER AT ALL TIMES
The Women’s March in D.C. was my highest paying gig. However, to get to D.C. I had to travel. I’m not sure who paid for the airline costs, the tickets just sort of appeared in my mailbox, but travelling to D.C. that weekend meant flying among dozens of other activists, some of whom may have been paid or unpaid (or as we call them, “free sheep”).
As passengers often do during long flights, there was a lot of conversation. This meant having to construct an elaborate backstory to avoid getting caught. The first time somebody asked me why I was travelling to D.C. to protest I had to scramble to find an explanation. I mumbled something like, “Because I care about the same liberal stuff that you do, of course!”
However, after a few hours of this banter I was able to sharpen my response to something so precise I could have passed an FBI lie detector test.
“Why am I going to D.C.? I have legitimate concerns about many of the things Donald Trump has said and done throughout the campaign, specifically regarding disability rights and women’s rights. I think he’s dangerously unqualified to hold public office and feel an obligation to dissent via grassroots political action.”
This leads me to #3…
3. MOST OF US DON’T BELIEVE IN OUR CAUSES
Ever see a black woman at a protest holding a sign that says, “Black Lives Matter” wearing a shirt depicting a feminist icon? Doesn’t it seem suspicious that she would care so much about black causes or policies impacting women? Or perhaps you’ve seen hundreds of Hispanics holding signs describing immigrant rights? What’s it to them?
The truth is that most of these people love Trump, and believe that Trump’s policies will help their communities and their causes. However, due to President Obama’s disastrous economic policies, many of these individuals need to take the protesting job to receive steady income.
Not everybody can maintain this level of discipline. I saw a man in a wheelchair outside the White House holding a sign that said, “PROTECT THE ADA”. It looked like he was doing everything in his power to fake what was obviously a statement he didn’t agree with. He only lasted an hour before he tossed his sign to the ground, spat on it, then stood up and walked away muttering “You can keep your lousy paycheck.”
4. NOBODY GETS PROMOTED
Because of how complex and secretive it all is, there’s very few people to complain to. The computerized voice which calls me every week with instructions provides little in terms of advice when I ask about opportunities for advancement. I’ve asked several times how to become the guy with the bullhorn but the voice usually just hangs up.
There’s a lot of dissatisfaction between those of us who are sign holders verses those who get the sexier assignments like holding a two-person sign, or getting to be a speaker. While we understand that organizing thousands of people down to the finest detail is a Westworld-scale task, there’s still dissent when you feel like you’ve put your time in and deserve the bullhorn gig.
5. NOBODY KNOWS WHO IS PAYING US OR WHY
The checks I receive are always from an organization called “The Organization”, but I’m not sure where the money is coming from or what the eventual return is on the investment. Most of the other paid protesters I talk to in private make pay that is well above minimum wage. The Women’s March alone, the largest gathering of paid protesters in U.S. history, must have cost the organization at least a few billion dollars.
To date, none of us have been able to determine who “they” are or what their end goal is. It seems like it would be easier and more cost effective to simply use the money to help organize legitimate, out-in-the-open grassroots action which appeals to people’s true beliefs, the way MoveOn.org does.
Who organized all these millions of people to establish a shadow organization which pays anyone to go stand out in public screaming about civil rights and social justice? It seems crazy, doesn’t it?