Thank You Leaders

by Seth Wilpan

The opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect opinions or positions held by Indivisible Northampton.

In the morning email another plea to call my senators and contact the White House to egg them on to pass the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. After at least 20 years of obvious sabotage of voting rights by the Republican Party it takes a steady outcry from the public to motivate our elected officials to vigorously oppose them. That is a statement about the level of consciousness at which our existential situation is being considered. It goes without saying that it bespeaks a frighteningly low level of awareness, not to mention moral corruption.

It is evident, and has been empirically demonstrated, that at the national level neither elected officials nor government institutions are responsive to the will of the people. Why do we continue to fervently clamor for their support despite a history of, at best, tepid results?

I have to admit that I am susceptible to hopeful scenarios. Let’s say that the voting bills pass and they are able to forestall the most egregious assaults on voting rights. A substantial infrastructure bill passes and enough projects get off the ground to convince most people that their lot is improving. Anti-trust measures begin to reign in the ruthless power of corporations enabling  better working conditions and creating space for small businesses to thrive. If enough of these impacts are felt quickly enough, the Republicans, whose support is already faltering, may fail to gain control of even one of the chambers of Congress, which would allow the policies of the Biden administration to take root. That could lead to years of greenish prosperity and a long reign for the Democratic party while the Republican party goes through the process of recovering its sanity.

This scenario is, unfortunately, as fragile as it is hopeful. Every one of the elements would have to fall into place in order for it to become true. Not only that, but it does not take into account any of the possible external shocks that could throw things out of whack. How long before the extended drought in the west and the climatic disruptions of the Midwest cause food shortages and price increases? What if, as is not unlikely, pandemic conditions persist unrelentingly for years? The arsenal of weapons in the hands of Americans is a tinderbox on the verge of exploding into civil war. Cyber warriors have already demonstrated the capacity to wreak havoc.

On the one hand I feel that I must give all my effort to enable the hopeful scenario to prevail. On the other hand, I feel that I need to have a Plan B. Or is the need to have a plan B a matter of indulging, as Thomas Chatterton Williams recently put it, “…a certain intellectual and moral prestige in wallowing in our dissatisfaction…”.

There will always be a tension between the need to act and the need to strategize. What is constant is that we will always need each other; for the resistance, for mutual aid, for the never-ending work of human evolution.

So, regardless of the outcome of this particular struggle, I’m grateful to the leaders of our various organizations who do the hard work of keeping us focused, energized, and most of all, together.