Voice of The People is a look at more than a decade of protests, marches and actions in the U.S. from 2009-current.
I was raised by a predominantly Republican and Catholic family. Growing up, the children in my family were often not allowed to be present during political conversations or news broadcasts. We never discussed or were told about the historic protests, rallies, and marches that helped shaped our home country, the United States. In short, we were not permitted to be informed until we were of voting age at which point we stumbled out into the world largely uneducated about our government or the state of the world at that time. What little I had learned from my primary education did not prepare me for many of the bigger questions I had. During the first decade of my adulthood I searched for understanding. I briefly joined my university’s student senate and took small parts in various campaigns that then President George W. Bush and his family held in my home state of Wisconsin. In 2009, with a camera in hand, I attended my first political protest in a small town—it was the first national protest of the Tea Party Movement.

National TEA Party Protest, Fond du Lac, WI 2009 © 2021 Jason Houge, All Rights Reserved
National TEA Party Protest, Fond du Lac, WI 2009
© 2021 Jason Houge, All Rights Reserved

I left just as shocked and confused by what I had witnessed as they were confused about their message. I realized theirs’ was not a way of thinking or set of beliefs that sat well with me. It’s almost unfathomable this movement continues to persist and is responsible for setting the stage for the Alt-Right nationalist movement that rose up around 2016. Several TEA Party elected politicians have created legislation that significantly cut funding to public safety net programs designed to protect the public from economic and medical disasters, unemployment, food insecurity, and lack of shelter. Backed by nationalist organizations and groups subscribed to the idea of white supremacy, these cuts appear to be aimed at further oppressing minorities and have ultimately hurt many of the very people who back the party.

Over the years that followed this first encounter I discovered a different perspective to view the world from and made efforts to be present at many of the political engagements that occurred. My intent has been to photograph and witness these conversations to enshrine them as time has a way of silencing these voices and pausing these movements. The causes and desires of each march, rally or protest are that of basic needs, animal and human rights, planetary needs on a planetary scale.

In this body of work I am taking a look back at over a decade of photographing political marches and rallies across the U.S. I’m thinking about where we were, where we’ve gone and what steps will come next. I have come to the conclusion that the truth is out there if you know to look for it.

Tea Party Protests (above) 2009 | Wisconsin Workers Rights Protests 2011 | Occupy Chicago 2011 | Standing Rock 2016 | Women’s March on Washington Washington D.C. 2017 | Women’s March Chicago, IL 2018 | Women’s March Madison, WI 2019 | March to Protect Healthcare 2017 | March for our Lives Green Bay, WI 2018 | Climate Strike Madison, WI 2019