Here’s why incremental politics doesn’t work for me: We’ve been fighting for gun control laws for decades now. Organizations like the NRA and the people they pay off keep guaranteeing that nothing changes. After this most recent horrific gun massacre here in the U.S., we talk again about maybe trying to ban certain semi-automatic weapons. Mainly the AR-15. But since we can’t find a way to make that happen, we try and at least pass a law that would keep anyone on the terrorist watch lists from being allowed to legally purchase a semi-automatic weapon.
And IF we manage to get that law passed – after YEARS of trying – we will celebrate our success. Our incremental success. We ask for so little – we aim so low – and we celebrate the smallest concession the NRA and other conservatives will give us. And people will still be able to purchase semi-automatic weapons in the U.S.
From where I stand, it seems like we’ve confused our goals with what we’ve “settled” for as being all we deserve or can attain. If you FIGHT to repeal the Second Amendment – with everything you have to give – then it’s the NRA and conservatives that will eventually have to make concessions and THEY can celebrate when we give them just a little tiny bit of what they have asked for. It is THEY who will have to settle. So much more will get done. So many more lives will be spared. Remember, the majority of Americans support this. It’s powerful moneyed organizations like the NRA and their lobbyists that have managed to completely control the direction of these issues and laws, despite public desire and outrage. That’s our current system of government in a nutshell.
And if you’re one of those people who believe it’s impossible to get real laws passed, if you’re using the excuse that “Conservative Obstructionism” is too strong to get anything substantial done, and that the best we can do is hope that Conservatives give us “something,” “anything,” no matter how small, then I believe you have given away your power and your conviction. I believe you are directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously maintaining a narrative of victimization and powerlessness that I do not believe will get us where we need to go. Ever. And the stakes are too high.
This is one of the many reasons why I deeply support the Progressive values and approaches that Bernie Sanders represents and not Hillary Clinton, whose entire campaign and policy suggestions has been about incrementalism and how reaching for more is simply “unrealistic” or “not how things are done.” It’s a false narrative.
Don’t mistake what you’ve settled for as being all you deserve. Fight harder. Demand more. Be courageous in your convictions. And push your politicians and chosen candidates harder, further. Don’t let them set the limits. Bernie staying in the race pushes Hillary to have to recognize more Progressive values and laws. If you are fighting to remove that pressure, that voice, then you will get less in the end. And real people will suffer and pay the price. Why push for a $12 minimum wage when you know even $15 is barely livable? Because you don’t think you can get $15? Or do you actively believe it shouldn’t be $15, but $12? Fight for your convictions. At the very least, don’t fight to silence those who are willing to try. They’re fighting for you, too. They’re not the ones standing in the way of real, measurable progress. That’s the NRA. That’s many members of the Republcan Congress. And that’s Democratic politicians who don’t exhibit the courage of their convictions. Or are willing to even publicly state their convictions. Push them harder. Push them further.
And for God’s sake, punch up, not down.