I typed that word and instantly got this song stuck in my head. That Creatures album isn't on Spotify so I'm going to have to actually dig out Ye Olde iPod to listen to it. Old!
Thanks for all your lovely replies to last week's email. It's been a thing I've spent a lot of time thinking about and while I certainly don't have any real answers, I appreciate that you enjoyed reading it (and sent me thoughts).
So, "Disconnected." Other than a late 90s goth song.
I was chatting with a friend this morning, apropos of a meeting I attended yesterday, about the disconnect between the existing liberal/progressive infrastructure, political organizations and labor unions mostly, and where what I'd broadly call "the people" are politically. There's the "Beltway Bubble" effect, certainly, but there's also something more.
It's no secret that I think the financial crisis was a turning point for a lot of people and for American politics. But that's been hard for existing institutions to grapple with--even if they share that analysis, it seems, turning the ship around (so to speak) is not an easy task. And so we see people chaining themselves to barrels and shutting down highways and demanding not just the firing of a police officer but that we actually examine a system of white supremacy, and the response from the groups that exist to push policy is...what? Body cameras? The $15 minimum wage was a good demand in that it seemed almost utopian when the first fast food workers walked off the job and yet very quickly became achievable, at least in some cities. But what beyond that? It seems like a lot of groups are coalescing around the idea that Elizabeth Warren should run for president, but if there's one thing we should have learned by now it's that electing one person to office isn't going to solve our problems, and it's a little hard for me to figure out how throwing an endorsement to a person who doesn't appear to want it builds institutional power for big changes.
Utopian demands don't necessarily become policy, but they give us something to work towards, and maybe more importantly, they serve as a statement of values that, alongside a system analysis, is actually a basis for a politics.
I'm not an organizer, just a reporter. But the reporting I've done in recent years has told me that people are ready for big demands and big changes. I just finished a conversation with a group of workers who've been fighting for a union since 2011, and they're connecting their struggle with all the other struggles happening right now, from other labor actions to Black Lives Matter. They've got big ideas. We can make some bigger demands.