I was at the Denver Climate Strike.
Patagonia opened early, had coffee, donuts and bagels. They had materials people could use to make signs. But none of the posters they made available said anything about voting. There was not one message in the store about voting.
I talked to at least 50 young persons. Most said pretty much the same thing – things are different now, the system will be brought down by demanding change.
When I asked them about voting, reminded them the importance of electing representatives with plans to do something about the climate crisis, that seemed to be an afterthought. In fact a few argued with me that voting doesn’t matter now.
It wasn’t all bad, there were a few people with signs and t-shirts about voting. But they weren’t easy to find or see. From my eyes for every couple hundred signs about forcing/demanding change, 1 had something to do with voting.
So I was the odd one. I went around the crowd and said as loud as I could, “In the 2016 Presidential Elections, 120 million eligible voters did not vote. In the 2018 mid-term elections, as our country was heading towards the deepest divisions since the 60’s, only 48% of eligible voters voted. Protests are important. But what matters most is voting”, I got blank stares.
See any signs about voting?
I heard this, in defiance – “we’re too young to vote, Mister.” Say what? They’re not too young to run for student council, start apps dedicated to voting, or volunteering for politicians. In other words, they looked at me like since they can’t vote I was wrong to go off about voting.
These youth activists worry me.
- I think their messaging is wrong. Going around yelling at people about the climate crisis isn’t going to change the minds of voters in the swing states. Their messaging amounts to nothing more than preaching to the choir. Instead, their messaging should at least attempt to reach those on the fence. Messages about good paying jobs, clean air and water affects us all, and alternative energy makes us all more free would be a good start.
- They place a priority on social media. In this week’s Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Professor Ugo Mattei successfully masterminded the campaign against the privatization of Italy’s water. Social media didn’t help, it had the opposite affect.
- Their leader seems to be Greta Thunberg. I think Greta is super important. But she doesn’t talk much about voting.
- They’re ruled by their phone, they get their information from social media.
- They’re not focused on what matters the most – voting.
To understand where we are, need to understand how we got here.
In United States Of Distraction – Media Manipulation in Post-Truth America (And What We Can Do About It) by Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff, the authors layout how disinformation – led by social media, and the corporatization of the news, has turned Americans minds to mush. That 87% of Americans can’t recognize the difference between truth and lies. That unless we stop getting information from social media and mainstream networks, and start getting our information from independent sources, our country will turn into an authoritarian state.
We’re already well on our way to an authoritarian state. But it’s not too late to turn this crisis around. If you want to understand how we got here, here’s 2 books to read. Both are easy reads, you can read them both in a week.
If 8.7 out of 10 can’t tell the difference between truth and lies, what the fuck is going to happen when something terrible goes down? Where will we turn for the truth??
People, please stop getting your information from social media. Doing so is hurting us, in so many ways. Stop paying attention to news cycles, stop feeding the corporations who dominate news and information. Start watching Democracy Now! Read The Intercept.