Many activists are engulfed in the impeachment hearings. They want Trump impeached and gone. But I got a sober reminder today that highlighted our reality.
Every year I participate in the Annual Human Library, a project of the Civic Engagement Committee at Lonestar College – North Harris County. This college is a wonderful place of learning as we have throughout the country. Many students start at these community colleges for their first two years to dramatically reduce their education costs. This lends itself to the reality that you see a vast cross-section of people of all ages & ethnicities from various socioeconomic groups.
Several professionals in their craft are invited to tell their stories to the students. As students populate a table with 2 to 12 students a professional in their field sits at the table and tells their story. I condensed my story to 4 minutes or so and then I threw it back at them. I wanted to take this opportunity to get to their core. I addressed each one and asked them to just talk about what is on their minds. It shocked most but man, when they opened up the stories I heard were astounding.
The common thread was that they all wanted to succeed. That is not hard to imagine given that we are at a college. But most wanted to succeed in their family at all costs. Some wanted to just make a difference to people in society. The part that saddened me though was they all felt they had no control over what is going to happen. Not one of them saw any purpose of being politically active. Saying they were apathetic is an understatement.
I found two stories that connected very well with them. I pointed out that their demographic if they voted, are the most significant. When I pointed out the correlation between education costs when I was in college relative to theirs and tax-cut policies, they all came to attention. They realized, and several verbalized that if they work together they can force politicians to address their concerns. Many of the students wanted to be teachers. When I pointed out the true power of teachers if they ever decided to assert it, the interest was there as well. It was all about finding what spoke to their realities, a sort of personalization.
Trump came up one time. One person mentioned the impeachment hearings in passing. As I talk to scores of people, everyone is aware of ‘some kind of impeachment talk,’ but I do not find many near close engaged as cable news or activists.
Checking my feed just as I got back from spending that quality time with the college students, the following appeared in my feed from a well known Houston activist.
Sitting in the office alone and I just turned on CNN for the Impeachment Hearings, and I’m having a difficult time getting into this.
From the moment the election was called for him, I knew there was no way the racist carnival barker Donald Trump wouldn’t be removed from office for some BS, and that was my primary reason for becoming this “activist” person. But I have to wonder does it even matter now. Impeachment hearings almost seem like just another day in this crazy Dark Mirror episode of “Donald Trump is the President” It’s like the whole insanity of this Presidency has beaten us down, and we’re all just like “meh.”
Even if he’s removed from office, does it mean they won because they took the fight out of us? Or am I just having a mood?
Anyway, I’m going to watch and not with the same excitement and hopefulness I would have had two and half years ago but more like a person resigned to having to see it because CNN is always on at work.
tldr: why am I not geeked about this?
If you knew this activist as I know her one would understand my concern. Is it just a temporary burn out? Or is it that paradigm shift that has so redefined normal that we no longer have a functional political compass? I think it is a combination of both.
Those going through this period with that sentiment will need to refuel, grab the bull by the horns, and repair that compass. I think ultimately making the Trump impeachment a sideshow while centralizing on poor and middle-class centric policies will do just that. Most of whom I know outside the activist realm including the students I spoke to were not activated by anything Trump particularly. But when I touched those issues that really make a difference to their everyday life or to the life they want, they were fully engaged. Interestingly, the policies most of these people gravitate to are in fact Progressive. The mythical center has nothing to offer them.