The operative word in activist is “active.” To be an activist you must be... well, active; pro-active at times. An activist can’t sit in front of a computer, posting or blogging away, limit themselves to tweeting, or simply disseminate news - fake or documented fact. An activist must get up. They must make noise. They must do everything in their power to move their agenda forward. The most successful activists know a thing or two about making noise. They know that a shriek or a shout is nothing more than a fleeting sound. Groups like the NRA or those who attempt to eliminate a woman’s right to choose know that to make an impact, a loud prolonged piercing scream must rise above those whose means of protest are a distant gentle murmur. Activists of a conservative bent know this. Those with differing viewpoints, not so much. Freethinking liberals over-intellectualize, believing rational discussion will eventually rule the day. They can learn a lot from conservatives in that respect. But it’s unlikely they’ll ever succumb to like tactics.
Since the Trump administration took over the White House, activism on both ends of the political spectrum has been on the rise. Perhaps it began during the primaries leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Perhaps it has emerged as a result of it and its consequences.
New Democrat voices emerged. They felt “the Bern” of a candidate who spoke to the realities they were experiencing in their everyday lives. Affordable health care that wasn’t always affordable. Higher education and technical training whose costs are prohibitive to the average American. Establishment of a living wage, and a fight to level the playing field for those suffering from income inequality.
It’s been said before that our current president addressed may of these issues. To be fair, he did. His execution of policy, however, is questionable, indeterminate, and potentially dangerous.
President Trump’s solutions for “Making America Great Again” and “draining the swamp” are on display daily. The results are not pretty. Yet, the left, or those slightly left of moderate, lack cohesion, frustrating their efforts to fight back. While Democrats want to erect a big tent that can house the masses, they consistently fall short. Because they try to be too many things to too many people without a workable plan.
Liberals tend to be fractionalized. While they accuse the president of “playing to his base,” they fail to either build or strengthen a foundation of their own.
Defining a message is only part of the problem. Not just for Democrats, but for anyone who hopes to be an agent for change, whether you agree with the philosophy behind that change or not. Change we can believe in – to paraphrase our former president – is change that benefits us all, not just targeted segments of the American people.
Activism is like exercise. You can think about it, you can talk about it, or you can get off your butt and do something about it. And what is it? It’s anything that is important to you, be it an issue that’s philosophically conservative or liberal. It’s what the kids from Parkland and others around the country did by organizing the March for Our Lives.
While there are conspiracy theorists who believe the young people who planned the March could never have done so on their own, somebody did something. They took a tragic event and made it the catalyst for voices of reason to be heard. You may not agree with the message, but the next generation is not going to roll over and take things lying down. They don’t like the direction we’re headed and they have every intention of moving our nation forward toward a better place.
Americans have fostered and fought for a society that affords our disparate voices to raise in unison and speak out for what is meaningful to us; to be activists. Despite recent attempts to manipulate our spirit of activism, the truth and what is just will ultimately prevail - as long as we cast complacency aside and be the kind of activists our founding fathers once were. Whatever political philosophy or truths we may adhere to.
Blair Bess is a Los Angeles-based television writer, producer, and columnist. He edits the online blog Soaggragated.com, and can be reached at BBess.firstname.lastname@example.org.