Civic Geek: What If We Do The Right Thing?

(This column is posted at¬†and Steve’s Tumblr.¬† Find out more at my newsletter.)

Following up my various thoughts about the Parkland students, I noticed a few things:

  1. They’re unapologetic.
  2. When they do go on the attack (such as David Hogg’s push for against Laura Ingraham’s advertisers), they stay unapologetic.
  3. They keep doing their thing.

This made me realize something about modern politics. We don’t often realize what actual *activism* looks like.

We’ve confused activism with arguing. With spewing pundists. With internet comment battles. With silly memes. We’re used to yelling and arguing, but for the sake of yelling and arguing. We’re often too trained to look for a “win” or stay inside an echo chamber.

When we do engage, then we’re often dragged down by the lowest common denominator in a debate – and there’s plenty of that to go around. Most conservative pundits do not debate in good faith, most conservative “intellectuals” are clearly disingenuous. Their goal is not nuance or communication or convincing, it’s to win a screaming match.

Now, what if we step back from this and ask what happens when *we ignore engaging with people who aren’t interested in discussion.*

Reach out to people that do want to talk. Demonstrate in ways that do get attention. Engage in causes that actually bring people together and *do shit.* Let actions speak for themselves, and when you do speak don’t let yourself be dragged down but take action.

Most of all, don’t get dragged into the battle of pundits and provocateurs rolling in shit.

This is a lot of what I see happening now in politics. People engaging, getting active, getting involved. There’s assorted lists to give you ideas of how to actually do stuff, teams trying to flip districts, more folks running for office. A lot of it flies under radar as it’s not spectacular and yelly and in the news by people trying to sell advertising.

This kind of activism is immensely¬†frustrating to the people whose livelihood and jollies rely on pointless bad faith argument and mud-slinging. When you’re the one screaming until people worry you’re going to wet yourself, you look bad. When you’re busy screaming obscenities and claiming High Schoolers are a secret Deep State Cult, you look sort of dumb.

We need more of this. More real activism. Less mud-slinging. Even if it’s just donating money or marching – or just making sure you post relevant news articles to your social media.

If those of us really concerned with society move forward, do the right thing, engage less with the people acting with no good faith, we’ll get a lot more done. Best of all the various liars and decievers and screamers will just get more frustrated and further undermine themselves.

Me, I know I can do better at this. But when I see what you can do when you stop and focus on doing the right thing first, it certainly tells me what I have to do.

And what I don’t.

How are you going to do the right thing?

– Steve