Debunking the myth of the paid protester

Warning: I’m about to commit math! And politics! TOGETHER IN ONE POST!

It’s now the lie du jour  for the Trumpist/Bannonist elements of the Republican Party — and let’s face it, gang, they don’t speak for the mainstream GOP anymore — to state that the protesters who have taken to the streets in the past few weeks are not, in fact, Americans like you and I who are exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of assembly and the like.

Nope, they’re paid protesters. Because Trump won the presidency and the globalist/elitist/Wall Street cabal behind Hillary Clinton and the Democrats simply cannot allow the real voice of the people to go unchallenged. See? Even the president has an opinion:

In all fairness — a quality not usually associated with the President or Mr. Bannon — this tweet was about protests near Oakland that got violent when an alt-right provocateur and demagogue went to go talk at Berkeley. Which…dude, you went to Berkeley to talk alt-right politics? OK, then.

But the myth of paid protesters goes far beyond one or two incidents, and the echo chamber is filled with all kinds of conspiracy theories. Apparently, the hardcore Trumpist/Bannonist folks think that the protests we’ve seen all around the country were funded by…someone. (George Soros is always a favorite bogeyman for such shenanigans, for some damn reason.) But whatever — deep pockets and irrational hatred of Trump equals paying to undermine him via protests.

I’m gonna tackle this utter fallacy in two parts. First, the actual costs and logistics of paying protesters, and second, the potential return on that investment. Here we go.

How many people have protested against Trump or his proxies since he was inaugurated? Let’s put aside the international protests for a moment and just go with domestic. On January 21, there were massive protests in Washington and in hundreds of cities and towns all around the country. The lowest estimates of turnout for that day is 3.3 million people, so we’ll use that.

How about those airport protests? I’m just eyeballing it here, but let’s go with 25,000 more people around the country. We’ll do another 5,000 for the bodega protests in New York last week, and another 25,000 protesting at Trump’s Xanadu in Fort Lauderdale and around the country this past weekend, and let’s not forget the thousands in Philly who protested when Trump showed up. In total, let’s say another 300,000 protesters still at it after inauguration weekend. That feels super conservative, but OK.

Add it all up, and that’s 3.6 million people carrying signs and protesting Trump since the inauguration here in the U.S. (Again, you could make a case for 5 million easy.)

So let’s say you want to pay these protesters. Can you get folks to protest for minimum wage? I doubt it, but let’s keep it cheap. Call it $8 an hour. And given the size and scope of those protests, not to mention staging and travel time, we’ll assume an eight-hour day. So that’s $64 a head, multiplied by 3.6 million heads. That’s a price tag of just over $230 million just in protester wages alone! Wow. That’s a lot of money, y’all.

But you can’t just pay people. You have to get them to the protests and give them signs! Call it $10 per person in transportation costs, and let’s say one out of every five has a sign (or a black mask if you like your conspiracies violent), which cost another $5. So that’s another $36 million for transportation, and $3.6 million in protest materials.

That’s $269.6 million. But let’s be generous and say that, maybe, only a third of the protesters around the country were paid by the globalist/elitist cabal led by Satan in a George Soros suit. We’ll call it $90 million to keep the math even.

So in order to believe the myth of the paid protester, you have to believe that there’s a shadowy cabal of America-haters out there willing to spend $90 million to pay protesters, bring them to protests and give them signs. And that’s just for one third of the most conservative estimated turnout over the past few weeks. Why would you even pay for that, when you already have two-thirds of the protesters out there working for your shadowy cabal for free? I mean, if the Women’s March had 2.2 million marchers around the country instead of 3.3 million, then you’d still have the single biggest day of protests in our nation’s history. So that $90 million really wasn’t that well spent.

And honestly, how are you even going to manage the logistics of paying all those people? Is the Soros cabal gonna cut a check? Don’t you think there are bank tellers in the U.S. who would note a huge influx of checks come Monday, Jan. 23, all from the same source? (Or multiple sources, if the Soros cabal is trying to be clever.)

Or hey, let’s say the protesters were paid in cold hard cash. That means $90 million in small bills had to be withdrawn from the nation’s banks between the election and the inauguration — a span of 73 days — or $1,232,876 each and every day after the election. Problem is, banks are required by law to report the withdrawal of more than $10,000 in cash to the IRS. That means you would have to have a minimum of 124 dummy accounts, and then you’d have to go back to each account to withdraw $9,999.99, every day for 73 days. (And likely hire 124 super trustworthy people to secure all that money and not go zipping off to Cabo with it.)

And nobody is gonna notice all that activity? Dude.

So yeah, that’s the logistics. It’s just about impossible to pay for all those protesters in such a short amount of time without the federal government or even Fox News noticing. And besides, with a million people on the bankroll, you would think some idiot somewhere would’ve put a picture of his protest payment on Instagram.

Now, let’s talk about return on the investment. You spent $90 million to augment protests that are already super-protesty. (Or spent $269.6 million to fund them all, but that’s some comic-book mastermind stuff right there, tripling all the logistical requirements outlined above.) So what do you get for your investment?

Well, you get a lot of protests. And yes, maybe that translates into a shift in public opinion. However, with midterm elections still 21 months off, there’s plenty of time for the Trumpist/Bannonist folks to swing things back in the other direction. One tweet from Trump gets him loads of news coverage and costs nothing. Your $90 million for two-plus weeks of protest is kind of weak sauce in comparison.

But what if you took that $90 million and invested it in, you know, actual politics? Democrats need just 24 House seats and three Senate seats to completely flip Congress. That’s 27 elections!  And check this out: The average Senate campaign cost $10 million in 2012, and the average House race was $1.7 million.

So you could invest $90 million in two weeks of protests. OR, you could support three Senate races at $15 million a pop and give another $1.875 million to 24 House races, more than matching the 2012 budgets of each race and overwhelming the competition. And nobody would really pay much attention, given the proliferation of super PACs and other electioneering nonsense.

If you had $90 million to spend on politics, which would you choose?

Look, we get that the whole “paid protester” thing is stupid as hell, but sometimes it feels good to outline just how amazingly stupid some of these conspiracy theories really are. I know I feel better. Thanks for reading.

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Filed under Politics, Rant

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