Stop Clapping for Tinkerbell: The Left Needs to Be OK with Getting its Hands Dirty

Yesterday, Vanessa Williamson and I published a piece in the Nation about the asymmetries in the tactics on the Left vs the Right. We point out that many progressive organizations follow “an outdated playbook of one-day rallies and electoral politics that currently can achieve no more than a pro forma vote on doomed federal legislation.”

On the morning of the second March for Our Lives, it’s worth thinking about how this is playing out across a range of progressive issues today. Calling for a peaceful march and some lobbying days to try to get Congress to pass a bill (that has no chance of making through both houses and onto the President’s desk) redirects civic outrage into symbolic/performative measures that can backfire for the movement as a whole.

We observe this same process around gun reform, reproductive rights, and climate change right now. The piece concludes: “If they close the doors on confrontational activism and civil disobedience, mainstream liberal and Democratic organizations cede a whole range of demonstrably effective tactics to their opponents.”