Political protests and mass demonstrations have in the past been effective tools for social change. Ideal protests of the past emphasized issues that transcended normal politics and those that suggested the failure of the normal political process. They suggested that their protest was the result of an unusual threat and of extraordinary circumstances. But protest today has become commonplace and ineffective through overuse. This overuse has led to inconvenience, disruption, dilution of sympathy, and the undermining of liberal institutions. Furthermore, protests today are often self-gratifying exercises that are done for recreation, to relive nostalgia, and commonly "preach to the choir." For these reasons, contemporary political protest has lost widespread legitimacy. Suggestions are given for how they can regain this legitimacy.
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