An Activist Asks, Is It Worth It?

A bridge at dawn

BEVERLY HILLS, CA ( 2020/5/12 – “So many of my activist friends say the system isn’t worth their time or effort,” an activist writes. “I say Americans need to think critically about our political system but still participate in it. What do you think? Is it worth it?”

If by “the system” your friends mean the standard political practice of courting shady investors to buy time on the propaganda platforms of Facebook, Fox and iHeartRadio, then I’d have to agree with your friends. Not worth anyone’s time who has integrity. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t participate in making politics a better place, just not that way.

If, as progressive thinkers, we say we want elections to stop being about money, we should practice what we preach. Stop begging for money.

Every email I receive from the party asks me for a donation. When I ran in the last election, the party asked if I wanted to apply for a grant from that money. I declined. What could I do with it?

The generally accepted political strategy is to spend campaign funds on media, that is, to fund the companies that support the distribution of authoritarian propaganda. Or, to spend campaign funds on hosting parties to court rich donors, investors who expect favors in return later.

Embracing a contest to outspend incumbents funded by dark money seems not very bright. Bernie Sanders has said that the three richest Americans control more wealth than the bottom 160 million Americans. While Politifact doesn’t agree with everything Bernie says, they do rate this one as true. If we accept this fact, we must consider that asking poor people to give us money to try to outspend the rich is a crazy political strategy.

I believe it is possible to win, despite a rigged system, despite lack of money. Importantly, it seems to me that winning by playing by the incumbents’ rules, trying to outspend them, is becoming them, is worse than losing.

I’m seeking a new path to winning. If you feel the same, contact me. Would love to have more help.