(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)
Not my best week as an engaged citizen, but also a week where I considered a few important issues and had some insights. So let’s get to my latest on being a better citizen.
Beyond my upcoming visit to a political organizing party where I’ll work on GOTV, I’ve also engaged a member of a local political group to advise me – just in case this doesn’t work. After my past experiences, I want backup plans.
I’ve done poorly on one of my original goals – contacting my representatives more. I’ve been so focused on the political conventions and the campaign, I’ve forgotten to go annoy them very much. Not a good thing, and something I’m remedying by setting an alert for myself in my calendar.
I also did fall a bit behind on following my government news feed. Then again that was kind of my entire news feed the last two weeks, so I’m not sure I did.
One funny thing I did, in light of the Putin/Trump/Russia/Hacking mess is do a bit of my own protest by queueing up Tweets to mention this – not a load, no more than one a day, properly tagged. It takes little effort and is my small contribution to keeping that issue in the spotlight – currently for 3 more weeks. I was productive in my tiny way.
So that’s a bit on protest, which brings me to . . .
Protest Isn’t That Useful
Watching political events as of late has made me doubt the value of protest in modern politics. Unless it reaches a critical point, it seems to have very dilute effects. I’m not against it, but I’m against people thinking that’s all they need to do. My little Twitter thing is something I know is just an easy little extra.
Protest paired with plans, action, local organization, fundraising, is fine. Protest is one of many tools, but it seems as of late, embodied recently with a minority of Sander’s supporters, that people think protest is all there is. Go out, yell, magic happens.
That’s not it. Again involvement in politics, organizing, pushing for issues, that matters. Getting attention is at best part of it, and worse a waste in our distractible, sensationalist media. If you don’t build (or work with) an organization, you risk being either ignored or a sideshow unless you fit someone else’s narrative.
So after the two political conventions, a few impressions:
- The Democrats walked with it, with an inclusive platform over a divisive one, with a lot of real political and personal testimony.
- Trump’s followup has been horrible, from attacking the parents of a fallen soldier to weird conspiracies about Fire Marshals. Hillary’s comment that anyone that can be set off by Twitter shouldn’t be President seems to hold water.
- The Democratic party seized the mantle of patriotism at the convention, and Trump’s actions are only helping them. This is a major cultural shift, and though one that makes sense (patriotism as a coming together), I saw a bit of discomfort on this in random Twitter commentary, that it could become jingoistic or otherwise pathological. I’m not that concerned, but it bears watching.
- Conventions are like promises. Sure they’re theater, but people are supposedly saying things they believe in. I liked a lot of what I saw of the DNC – now I can call them on it.
- We’re facing some kind of social and political shift, but I can’t get my arms around it. The Republicans have support but seem to have locked themselves out of the presidency. The Democrats are the patriotic adults in the room.
That’s it for me. Any more civic thoughts for you?