“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” – Winston Churchill
I have been watching some of the online news coverage of the March Across America movement and one of the words that is providing a common thread is “hope”. I find a certain sadness in that. These kids should have “aspirations” play a bigger part in their lexicon than “hope”. Unfortunately tragedy brings on the need for hope while smothering aspirations. I find it difficult to call these kids “kids” since the reality is they are young adults quickly approaching voting age. Today’s policy makers had best take notice of that. A tsunami of a new informed, engaged and now enraged electorate is beginning to swell.
This new wave of young voters has access and knowledge to technology never seen by the generations before. The March Across America has gone international due, in part, to this technology but also fuelled by a generation who want true control of their lives. When you are confronted with school suspension simply for participating in protest that’s intimidation. Todays young people are fighting for the right to self-determination and will no longer tolerate blatant intimidation as a norm. After all they are the ones being shot or killed.
They are no longer content with big money lobby groups like the NRA or huge money Political Action Committees (PAC) or Super PAC using the democratic process as a “casting couch”. They may be living under a Presidency who has turned democracy into a reality TV show however the March Across America is focused on changing that.
I have had people from my own generation (baby-boomers) make disparaging comments about these young activists being just kids and not knowing anything. I beg to differ. I have watched much of this coverage on the very technology the baby-boomers lacked. When you watch eleven year olds speaking with more maturity and common sense than our politicians you start to realize the change on the horizon.
When I listen to the likes of Cameron Kasky speak out I hear wisdom and conviction. When I hear the likes of Emma Gonzalez speak out I am reminded of another young person dragged into the spotlight due to gun violence, Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Noble prize winner in history. Age is irrelevant when it comes to maturity and insight.
When people like David Hogg can recognize and acknowledge the reality of a changing political system I feel pride for these kids. You are not protecting democracy when you choose to ignore it or relate it to negative past events. Times change and processes change. You don’t encourage change with that “done that been there and it didn’t work then”. Progress doesn’t happen when you are so tied up in negativity or denial
When the likes of Dana Loesch and the NRA is busily attacking individuals like David by denigrating their tragedy with false narratives of “being crisis actors” I am disgusted. If what he and his peers are doing is “crisis acting” then we need a whole studio of them. And as the March Across America is showing there is more than a studio full of them.
Emma Gonzales and her classmates from Parkland have shaken the complacency of the privileged. I grew up in that generation of “privilege” but have had to fight all of my life for acceptance into that privilege simply because of a disability. And that fight continues. I have born witness to the erosions of rights so many take for granted and I can only hope (there’s that word again) that this groundswell of activism brings true democracy back to really make America great again.
Nobody in 1955 realized that the simple act of a women named Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus would culminate eight years later with the Freedom March on Washington. It took nine years and many violent deaths for the creation of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. To see the nine year old granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr, Yolanda King, speaking out with a maturity that is non-apparent in the White House raises hope.
It took years of anti-Vietnam protest marches beginning with the Chicago Seven in 1968 to bring about the end of that war in 1975. I know because I marched at age 18. Youth has always been the crux of change and the youth of America are, yet again, on the rise. Change can be slow but with persistence it happens. The need to keep this momentum going is now in the hands of the younger generation. These are no longer kids. They have become victims pushed into the spotlight by tragedy.
They have had what was left of their childhood taken away by a generation who finds complacency to be an easier road than demanding accountability. Just look to the White House. I don’t believe this is going away and the best we can do is walk with these kids, not drag them back by denigrating their tragedy or denying their commitment. We need to support them and stand up to the concept that politics is not a casting couch. That our leaders should not be “paid for players” purchased by lobby groups. Six and a half minutes is but one grain of sand in the hour glass of these kids lives that will hopefully put them back on the road the the real “being great again”…