FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When Outrage is Capital

Photo by Cody Williams | CC BY 2.0

It’s difficult to determine when performance begins and outrage ends. When this year’s first “March For Our Lives” got thousands of people in the street in every city and town across the country, activists felt vindicated. After decades of trying to get elected officials to take a stand on gun violence, it seems like headway is being made.

Students from schools around the country walked out together, and some brave students even walked out alone.

While it felt good to see elected leaders scrambling to take a position on such a vital issue, the scrambling wasn’t for a lack of time to plan. People have been asking for these changes since Sandy Hook in 2012 and since Columbine nearly 20 years ago.

We see the rage spike and then watch strongly worded statements roll in. It’s only in hindsight that we understand that our representatives saw what we perceived as a time for solidarity as an opportunity for political gain. Our struggle is how to identify these performances and how to respond.

Protect The Brand

Many of the elected officials and public interest groups who showed up for the March For Our Lives had special signs printed up with for the event. While some featured just a hashtag or a statement, several representatives held big banners with their own name on them.  Given that this is an election year for many, this was a great opportunity to take photos for late summer mailers and social media.

These representatives have a platform to speak from whenever they want. They were out there performing for cameras, doing it for the likes. They’ve bought into the fantasy that their time is precious and that their presence has meaning.

Thankfully the kids who organized this event and whose peers are in danger of losing their lives outnumbered the opportunistic adults. As long as they steer clear of the cynical politics of their predecessors, we are in good shape.

Allies and Opponents Are Temporary

On July 4, 2017, Washington Post mogul and former heir Lally Weymouth held a party out in the Hamptons. Rubbing elbows at the party were big figures in Democratic politics like donor George Soros, senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

Between the handshakes and hors d’oeuvres, a few other regular guests squeezed into this annual Hamptons affair. Their numbers included Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump along with Kellyanne Conway.

In a post-modern political context, where reality can be spoken into existence and tweets have as much weight as executive decrees, symbolism has never mattered more. Symbolically, this reminds even the most casual political observer of the absurdity in post-modern politics. Literally, it means that when an elected official calls for an end to alternative facts while rubbing elbows with their inventor, someone is being hoodwinked.

While compromise is important, we’re often sold a line that so many of the conflicts in value cut to the soul of who we are as citizens. Rather than maintain this existential struggle, the mask falls away when the cameras turn off.

There’s no compromise because there was no struggle. There’s merely a performance and a consolidation of power. There’s an appearance of forward momentum, but it’s just a fleeting condition that’s as fragile as the egos of those who work the gears.

Our Only Weapon Is Focus

Our best bet is to try to avoid falling into the rage traps, clickbait, and strongly worded statements released by our representatives. We need to avoid heroic politics, as we will only be disappointed. Our criticisms, our questions, and our goals need to be as specific as possible and our loyalties need only to be long as each of these specific campaigns.

That same outrage about gun violence was absent in mid-May 2018, just six weeks after the march, when the new US embassy opened in Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinians were injured or killed by Israel’s military as the ceremonial opening occurred. The same elected officials who were decrying gun violence were silent or even supportive of the president’s action.

We should be concerned when former critics move toward blind praise. Our leaders need to be constantly questioned and reminded of their constituents’ commitment to progress.

Our own loyalty shouldn’t be galvanized by incumbency. It should be as fragile as the will of our leaders. Our outrage is our capital and we need to spend it wisely or else we risk blowing it on the wrong things.

 

More articles by:
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail