Political change takes work, not strikes
While many have argued that one of the most pernicious problems in local and national government is the hyperpolarization and militant partisanship that draws sharp dividing lines in our communities both locally and nationally, an underlying problem propagating and exacerbating this divide is lazy activism, driven by a digital culture.
Not even 20 years ago, when protesters demonstrated against the invasion of Iraq – which was later proven to have been orchestrated on fictitious bases of weapons of mass destruction that did not did not exist – Americans and international activists had to demonstrate in the streets. The internet was a relatively new tool in the activism toolbox through which organizers could reach like-minded people and motivate them to join in the streets, around Capitol buildings, or in public squares where they could speak, listen to each other and be heard from each other and elected. officials, hopefully repelling them from the invasion or at least expressing their displeasure.
But for 20 years, a means of communication has become the method of protest. Rather than marching through the streets for or against abortion, for or against military action, for one civil right or another or even against specific political figures and legislation that have drawn public ire, activists and the motivated public instead posts comments on social media, read only in ideological silos, which can be ignored by officials with a keystroke or an emoticon.
“The senator heard us, his blue thumb proves it!
Local elected officials at the state and national level tell us that email is the best way to communicate with them. Of course it is. Send a message and elected officials can reply, “Thank you for your concern, we’re looking into it,” giving activists the false belief that they’ve done something while allowing elected officials to pretend they’re listening to their constituents.
Phone calls, if actually answered, require at least an immediate response of anger, outrage, or celebration in the tone of voice of voters, unlike the flat characters of an email or d message or tweet on social networks.
Bodies matter more than bytes. A public protest places physical bodies in a physical space that expresses the will to effect change, coupled with constructive action such as delivering petitions or engaging speakers with the public who otherwise might not experience not be the nuances of the problem.
Residents often set up shop at the corner of Coffee Pot Drive and State Route 89A, or State Routes 260 and 89A, urging drivers to honk their horns if they support [insert topic here]more recently supporting Ukraine.
It would be more beneficial to fundraise for the International Red Cross or use its wealth to help refugees on the Polish border find shelter and resources – but that time and effort could interfere with the ability of local activists to protest affordable housing projects in the Verde Valley. Instead, holding meaningless signs around the corner earns “trophy crate activists” their participation medals for the cause of the week.
Ukrainians don’t hear car horns.
Instead, activists who don’t brag about donating to refugee support organizations or Ukrainian media.
Lazy activism is also how our political process works. Rather than legislating with consensus, Democrats and Republicans are colluding in state houses to gerrymandate districts for the least electoral competition, securing seats that lack debate or campaigning for a desperate majority in a seat.
With narrow majorities, both Conservatives and Liberals pass bills as if they had mandates by two-thirds majority. In November, if the other party manages to win a one-seat majority and gubernatorial mansions, which is entirely possible in extremely thin “battleground” states, the new ruling party will repeal the laws as if it had a two-thirds majority.
Legislators should instead govern on the basis of popular opinion and clear majorities rather than aim to win at the margins and govern through extremism.
As long as lazy activists continue to protest with posts and rally with retweets, lawmakers will feel free to ignore the moderate majority. Go to meetings and talk. Host events that have clear goals for real-world change and read about legislation you want to implement or repeal.
If you only share memes, the rest of the world can simply unsubscribe.
Christopher Fox Graham
The International Committee of the Red Cross – with its partners in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – remains active in Ukraine and neighboring countries, saving and protecting the lives of victims of armed conflict and violence. Our neutral and impartial humanitarian action supports the most vulnerable people: the humanitarian needs are enormous, but together we can meet them. Donate here https://www.icrc.org/en/donate/ukraine
United Help Ukraine Inc. is a non-profit charitable organization that receives and distributes donations, food and medical supplies to Ukrainian IDPs (persons displaced within their own country), Ukrainians affected by the Russian invasion in the eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, to the families of those injured or killed for the freedom and independence of Ukraine. Our activities focus on fundraising events, raising awareness of the crisis in Ukraine by engaging individuals, organizations, private and governmental institutions and media in the United States of America. https://unitedhelpukraine.org/donate
The Kyiv Independent is Ukraine’s English-language media, created by journalists fired from the Kyiv Post for defending editorial independence. On November 11, 2021, more than 30 former employees of Kyiv Post decided to continue the legacy of Kyiv Post by launching a new publication – the Kyiv Independent. See his news coverage here: https://kyivindependent.com/ and his Twitter feed here https://twitter.com/KyivIndependent. Illia Ponomarenko is the defense and security journalist at kyiv Independent and did some incredible reporting from the front lines. He has reported on the war in eastern Ukraine since the early days of the conflict in 2014. The Kyiv Independent and Illia Ponomarenko and colleagues, donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/kyivindependent-launch
Doctors Without Borders aka Doctors Without Borders is stepping up its medical humanitarian response to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and neighboring countries, where more than 4.3 million refugees have fled. MSF has a long-standing presence in Ukraine, including parts of the eastern region that have been affected by armed conflict since 2014. Due to the ongoing war, MSF has suspended normal activities and launched emergency activities in Ukraine. with teams in kyiv, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Zhytomir, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Odessa, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Bila Tserkva, Uzhhorod and Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, and in Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, Russia and Belarus. MSF is an independent and impartial organization committed to providing humanitarian medical assistance to people affected by war, no matter who they are or where they are. Donate here: https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org/secure/donate