Progressives love a good protest. We attempt to model ourselves after the leaders of the Civil Rights era and we draw strength from the movements of the past. The Women’s March, January 21, 2017, was an amazing worldwide event that certainly gave the visual of unity and sent a message to the establishment.
We have learned to amplify our voices and reach large audiences at the speed of a tweet thanks to technology and social media. But therein lies a problem; that same speed, technology, and social media that amplifies our voices also gives our opponents insight on how we operate. The establishment is made of business men of all political affiliations and they use our passion and haste to work against us. Calls to action and organization happen fast, but speed is not always a strong point for the fight we are in now. We need to think through our positions, our demands, our needs, and now, more than ever, we need to evaluate who we allow the privilege of standing with us and calling themselves an ally. While progressives are clear that we vote with our dollars, we are still coming to terms with the fact that we have to acquire and wisely utilize our funds to meet our opponents on the field of battle.
Commercialization of the movement is becoming increasingly more problematic. And there are plenty of businesses ready to jump on the protest bandwagon. These businesses will supply you with your protest needs for a modest fee. A few nights ago, Elizabeth Warren was barred by Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, from speaking against Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General nominee, saying “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” My social media is already clogged with items I can buy emblazoned with “Nevertheless, she persisted” as it is now being hailed as the new battle cry for the movement. On the heels of Pink Pussy Hats, on the heels of Pussy Grabs Back on the heels of the Safety Pin Box, on the heels of Nasty Woman merchandise. So much effort is focused on having the next big slogan take hold or being the first with the cool kitschy item to show the world where we stand that we become, distracted, disorganized, and misguided which only serves to weaken our stance.
Corporatism is the real enemy that we are dealing with. The mega conglomerations and level of wealth we are battling against is beyond the scope of the average American. It seems logical when we know that we can’t afford to take a weekend, or hell a day, off work but we want some way to show our support when we see a cute coffee mug or sweatshirt that can be used to do just that, we jump at the opportunity. This is also a way we can support the cause and not lose income if you are lucky, or your job if you’re not so lucky; it seems to only make sense. But that is exactly where they want us. Where the only viable option feeds the mechanism we are attempting to dismantle.
For example, when Uber drivers broke the taxi strike at JFK International Airport, and we found out that Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, was on Trump’s economic counsel, instantly there was the push for us to delete our Uber accounts and move our business to Lyft. The problem with that is that we found out a couple of days later that Lyft investor, Carl Icahn, threw his support behind Trump in September of 2015 and now holds a position as Trump’s special regulations advisor.
Icahn has or has held interests in several organizations and it may surprise you that when you decide to pick up something at the grocery store or plan that cheaper evening at home you are still giving your funds to the same man. The short list below can be found on Wikipedia:
Icahn has held substantial or controlling positions in many corporations, including RJR Nabisco, TWA, Texaco, Phillips Petroleum, Western Union, Gulf & Western, Viacom, Uniroyal, Dan River, Marshall Field’s, E-II (Culligan and Samsonite), American Can, USX, Marvel Comics, Revlon, Imclone, Federal-Mogul, Fairmont Hotels, Blockbuster, Kerr-McGee, Time Warner, Netflix, Motorola, and Herbalife.
It was a slight of hand move that used our passion against us. The establishment redirected us into another one of the pockets on the same jacket. Then Kalanick makes a big show of leaving Trump and you cheer, take a breath, grab your iPhone, log into your Facebook to find out when the next Marvel movie is coming out so you can purchase your tickets early using the money in your PayPal account, not realizing you are still contributing to the forces you are fighting against. You are probably reading this article on Facebook, the irony is not lost on me, trust me.
But we must use everything we have as a tool but also make sure we are the ones driving the movement so that we end up where we intend to end up and not lead to where they want us. We need a “SUSTAINED ACTION” to resist, divest, boycott and thrive, otherwise, we are just spinning our wheels and being sated with the appearance of making a change.
Please consider joining the General Strike on February 17, 2017.