Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Young People and the US Political Crisis- A Commentary by Dr Brian Purnell

Personally, I think we frame the issues incorrectly. We are, for the most part, reactionary. The other side is winning because it unifies around single issues - anti-choice, homophobia, guns, and low taxes. It paints its supporters as victims. And it dismisses all opposition as fake and contrived.
What is the counter narrative? I don't think our students have one.
They have an analysis. And it angers them. And they have positions. But being "woke," like the post-60s growth of "consciousness," does not give people a narrative to support, or a story to believe in.
The targets are too amorphous and disconnected: privilege, systemic injustice, inequality, power. They know more about the macro-systems and micro-aggressions, but less about weaving a unified vision of justice, peace, and yes, love.
I have no doubt that individuals and some resistance movements push those greater goods, but as far as advancing a broader agenda that can mobilize, energize, and focus a powerful opposition capable of mounting an effective attack against the neo-fascism taking over our country and Europe -- we have failed to advance a vision that brings people together to do that.
Obama used "Hope and Change," but he was too beholden to the aggressiveness of global capitalism to deal with so many people excluded from the economy.
Bernie and Occupy used "We are the 99%" but it fails to deal with the reality of our culture: we don't want to be like everyone else; we want to be special and different, even when we fight for the collective.
We have "Black Lives Matter," but it has not moved the needle enough on the legal and procedural protections that enable corruption in municipal politics, especially policing.
We have "Me Too" and the pelts of some major sex predators to hang on the wall, but a Predator-in-Chief as our national leader, and a soon-to-be Senator accused of serially preying upon teenagers.

These frameworks are not working. They inform. They inspire self-reflection. But they do not really inspire.

That is why our students do not seem determined. Determined for what, and why, and how?
That is why the other side is hungrier. It fights for its vision of civilization and nation and family.
Until we tell our story in the same types of ways, we will keep losing.


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