If winning elections and changing hearts and minds is our goal, then we should be mirroring the Parkland students. They are on point, and their techniques are resulting in building support for their issues. That is our goal, right? You’ll forgive me for asking since I’m not sure given some of the methods we are employing.
These kids are “for” something. They’ve stated their positions, and framed the debate, quite clearly, and, while they’ve garnered a few enemies, their list of supporters far outweighs their detractors. They know that success depends on votes, and not simply kicking people out of the club.
Sure, they’re snarky, but their snark is directed and effective. They are extremely skilled at not alienating people. They want as many people as possible to agree with them. That’s what winning looks like, btw. If you aren’t following these kids on Twitter, you should be. Their skill on this platform is second to none. It’s amazing to watch how they grow their base. And it is growing.
When I watch these kids I can’t help but to think that we need to follow their lead. Sure, the rabid gun owners will never agree with them, but they’ve reached many other gun owners. They’ve achieved something I didn’t think possible – They’ve split gun owners into groups. They’ve grown their support with nuance, by pointing out that not all gun owners agree with the NRA. They’ve focused on the NRA, and the politicians that it supports. They’ve given people room to grow and change and have rewarded that growth and change. Which has led to more growth and change. That’s the recipe for winning elections.
But even their clear focus on what they want allows for evolution. Politicians who’ve changed their positions on guns are thanked. The kids push for more, but they accept and praise anyone who moves in their direction. They do not paint them as lifelong enemies. They give them room to change their minds… and their votes.
And with changed minds we’re getting actual gun law discussions and policy changes. Not nearly enough yet, but change is happening. Don’t believe me? Then tell me the last time the NRA, and politicians who support the organization, have ever come under such scrutiny. Show me the last time the NRA had to play defense – let alone had to defend their positions. These kids have broken the predictable cycle every mass shooting has followed so far. They’ve also shown Americans exactly who the NRA is. They are making the NRA toxic, and uncool. That’s the death knell to any organization. That’s what progress looks like.
This is what we can do better. We can stop with the “never good enough” stance. We could try and give praise where praise is due. That does not mean we can’t criticize. We can and should. LOUDLY. That criticism needs to be backed up by action. Complaining without action won’t accomplish a thing. If your goal is changing the way things are, that means changing people’s minds. Sometimes I doubt that’s actually our goal. Sometimes it seems we focus more on us, and our liberal/progressive street cred, then results. We toss people into boxes and never allow them to leave. We demand they change their ways and when they do we don’t acknowledge it. In fact, many times we call them out for switching to our side, question their authenticity and paint them as political opportunists. Do we even know what winning looks like?
Lately, we sound more like the Tea Party. Which is a ridiculous path to follow. Dems, liberals, progressives are incapable of falling in line. We’re just too diverse. Modeling your political strategy on the Tea Party won’t work. We aren’t homogeneous.
Watch and learn from the Parkland kids. That’s what a revolution looks like.