Citizen Activism, Food for Thought, Voting = Resistance

“There’s only one form of resistance that’s going to work, and that’s voting. Voting for Democrats.”

E.J. Kraff, in No Factions in Foxholes, celebrates the coming together of citizen activists across a wide range of interests and concerns to make common cause.

As many have noted, the multi-city Women’s March was (almost pointedly) not a march for women’s rights but a march organized by women that roared on behalf of democracy and fairness, human rights and science. . . .  But the protests are just the part easiest to see. In the background, both novices and longtime progressive organizations and activists are working triple-time to be—not just in concept, but in action—intersectional at long last.

Kraff then asks the question:

No matter what the efforts, the economic and cultural chasms in a nation as vast as ours will never entirely close. Whatever is happening among the United States’ blue swarms, it’s still an interfaith coalition rather than a mass conversion to a unified theology.

But is mass conversion even necessary?

Harvard political scholar Theda Skocpol says no.

“There’s a tendency on the left in the United States to believe that people have to be converted to a common set of issues or a common platform before they can organize and work together,” . . . Actually, that’s not how it works.” . . .

“Frankly, Democrats don’t all have to agree between, say, small-city Pennsylvania and big-city Cambridge, Massachusetts. They don’t all have to be on the same page. Blacks and whites don’t have to completely agree, and blacks don’t have to be in charge and whites don’t have to be in charge. We don’t have time for that. It’s very natural for the left to fall into kind of a prolonged ideological seminar, but that is not what we need right now.”

So, what is needed now? It’s actually quite simple, and it’s been in front of our eyes all along.

“There’s only one form of resistance that’s going to work,” [Skocpol] continues, “and that’s voting. Voting for Democrats.” . . . “Whatever else you’re doing, learn the voter-registration rules, learn where the polling places are, make sure that everybody you know is registered to vote and is ready to vote, every single time they can vote.” Because if Democrats do better than expected in the small elections and the 2018 elections, “Republicans in Congress will start to get scared and they’ll start to pull away from Trump.”

Yup, it’s just the same as it always was: “Don’t boo. Vote.”

Recommended additional reading: In Vox’s “The Big Idea” series, we recommend Theda Skocpol’s A guide to rebuilding the Democratic Party, from the ground up. From the article:

Although the 2016 outcome holds no silver lining, it does create an opportunity to take stock of center-left strengths and limitations, bolster party organizations, and devise new and more effective strategies for organizing and mobilizing citizens. Much of the post-election recrimination has focused on the wrong things — on feckless second-guessing and on proposed strategies that range from utopian to counterproductive. In this piece, I will argue that in our time, the key priority should be strengthening the Democratic Party at state and local levels, even as liberals also build a mass movement to demand universal voter access and devise new formats for unions and other dues-based popular associations.


The source for all quotations in this post (except the last) may be found here.