“Any 16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral article. The idea that if you engage in enough of this low-value activity, it will somehow add up to something of high value (is) the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business…If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work.” Cal Newport
I’ve been an expat for just under a year. I’m not really planning on moving back to the States anytime soon, if ever, so I’m not in a position to take my own advice below, but here it is.
A lot of you are posting frustrated messages and articles about the election on Facebook and Twitter because you think it’s going to do something. It’s not going to do anything. At most, you are venting your frustrations, but that isn’t improving the world. It’s not creating a new movement. It’s not uniting anyone behind any cause. At best, you have been supporting the people who might do something, I suppose, but that’s a best-case scenario.
The Bannon Nazis? They’re accomplishing something. I hate to say it, but they are doing better than you are. They’re ignoring you and, simultaneously, getting your attention. They’re attracting adherents from other groups – even if that is Tila Tequila, for God’s sake. In a couple of months, they will be in the White House.
And you’re on your way out.
Want back in? Then get to work.
You need a movement. You need power. You need people. You need a plan. You need something to stand for. You can’t just be anti-Trump, or anti-racism, or anti-pipeline. You need to be PRO-something. Be PRO-the next candidate. PRO-diversity. PRO-equal rights. PRO-freedom. PRO-press – and yes, that means buying newspapers or subscribing to them, they’re not going to be around for free forever. Stop bringing forth candidates whose best virtues are that hey, they’re not the other guy.
It means getting off Social Media, too. Sorry. I know some of you are thinking, “But I’m telling people what I feel! I’m sharing articles and information!” Great. How well did that work in the last election?
You need to go out and interact with real people, face to face. You need to register voters. You need to educate people. You need to be plugged in to your party – whether that’s Green, Socialist, Democrat, Texan, whatever. You need to learn about how the system works. You need to learn about politicking – because it’s a game, and yes, Trump played it better than anyone else, even if people say he’s breaking the rules. You? You need to learn the rules. You need to learn how the system works. You need to study Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert Greene, Eric Hoffer, Nicolo Machiavelli, and Franz de Waal, because it’s clear you don’t understand what is going on. Study Berlusconi and Hitler and Mao and Stalin and Trump and Duterte and Roosevelt and Lincoln and Churchill and Clinton and Bush and Obama. Study Trump, too – go to the library and get his book if you can’t bear the thought of giving him royalties. Then get out in the community; go door-to-door, work phone banks, maybe even get dirty in the trenches of local political leadership. Educate yourself in a deep, meaningful way about politics. Stop pretending that re-posting New York Times articles is going to accomplish anything.
And then you have to get to work. Run for office if you can stomach it, because the President in 2040 is going to come from the city council members of 2024, some of whom will be running for junior dog catcher soon.
You have less than two years until the next election, and really, the next Presidential election started earlier this month. What will you accomplish by then?