Movements vs. Hustle

I’m neither political nor apolitical. My work at a nonprofit community-based organization speaks to my leanings, and grounds my engagement [rallies, letters, volunteering] , but I’m no adherent. This doesn’t make me a hero or a coward; it’s merely the clearest way [to date] I can explain my political dis/passion.

And political passions abound: Folks who previously wouldn’t consider themselves politically-minded or active are having debate-watching parties with as much hoopla and preparation as they used to have for the Oscars, or The Sopranos. And I’m glad for it.

Yes. I’m one of those cranky people who go around saying, “If you don’t vote, learn about the issues you say you care about, or do anything about them, you don’t get to complain!” This doesn’t make me a better person than the people I say this to/about. It’s what I believe.

While my beliefs and stands on issues tend to the middle, and slightly left of it, I believe what I believe regardless of party, politician, or – especially – celebrity endorsement*.

Since I’m a human with ears, I’ve not been able to escape the myriad pontifications of correspondents, policy wonks, and subway-ranters alike: the cults of personality that are The Donald and The Bern rise far above the rabble. It would seem the force is strong with those on “the fringes”.

But what is it about being ‘on the fringes’ that makes either candidate an attractive choice? Both candidacies (however divergent in their grasp/practice of common sense and human decency**) seem to tout some version of, “We aren’t establishment, our positions are extreme, we’re the more authentic candidate, join our movement.”

To me, the term movement carries a certain weight, and denotes a certain ethical and moral righteousness: abolition movement, women’s movement, civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter, climate justice…issues that impact and define our humanity, these are movements.

By the way, why is ‘establishment’ a four-letter word? Isn’t the point of movements to make the cause we’re fighting for the norm –  the established and accepted way of life (slavery=bad, women’s rights=good)? If we truly believe that our fringe positions are true and good, why call them fringe? Isn’t that pejorative? Or do we only support fringe positions because they’re perceived as fringe? Do we just like the idea that it’s subversive, and therefore cool? Is that what defines ‘movement’ these days? To throw my only-somewhat-informed opinion in the ring, candidate politicking seems more hustle than movement:

Hustle definition

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But I’m willing to stick around to see either candidate see it through. Whatever happens, I won’t be trading my citizenship for maple syrup. Overly-idealistic as it may seem, here’s what I believe:

America is a movement.

Democracy (small d, big D) is a movement.

Candidates are the hustle, but I’m in it for the long con.

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*My Twitter follows of Michael Skolnik, Kevin Powell, or John Avlon notwithstanding

**Yep. It’s possible I feel the Bern, but there’s no questioning how I feel about the bloated, fuschia-faced wonder.

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[Featured Image, from Voter Apathy by cartoonist Nick Anderson for the Houston Chronicle]We Didn't Vote