Slacktivism’s Not Enough

I transcribed this from an episode of Lovett or Leave It some time ago. I forget exactly which episode, but it was in the Before Times, and I never got around to posting it. It was also long before Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential primary race, and the deeply despondent response of some Bernie supporters to a Biden candidacy brought it to mind again:

When someone says to you, “Oh, I think Trump is gonna win,” say to them, “What did you do this week to prevent that from happening?” That’s all. “Oh, you think Trump’s going to win? You must think that’s a real emergency then. Wow, you’re that pessimistic? Did you donate to anybody? Did you knock on any doors? Did you do anything? Oh, you did nothing? You did absolutely nothing… So you’re just somebody who wants to make everybody feel bad?”

If somebody says Trump is gonna win, you say, “You don’t know that. And if you think that, you need to do something to stop it. Now get the f*ck out of my face.”

It’s harsh, and somewhat joking – it is a comedy podcast – but it’s a serious point. It also came to mind as I read a Guardian article about a pair of new books: EJ Dionne’s Code Red, and Eitan Hersh’s Politics is for Power. I think this, referencing the latter, follows on Lovett’s point:

Hersh, meanwhile, identifies a crucial first step toward righting our water-soaked ship of state: spend less time on “hobbyism or slacktivism”, which mostly consists of preaching to the converted (or picking fights with people we’ve never met) on Facebook and Twitter.

In 2018, Hersh asked a representative sample of Americans how much time they devoted to any kind of political activity. One third said they spent two hours or more each day on politics. But of these people, four out of five also said that “not one minute of that time is spent on any kind of real political work. It’s all TV news and podcasts … and social media and cheering and booing and complaining to friends and family.”

Spending time online, reading Twitter, Facebook, Slack, even this post, that’s one thing. Staying informed, learning, and building community can happen on the internet. But there’s a big difference between the kind of “spending time on politics” described there, and actually working to effect lasting change for our country and for our neighbors’ lives.

You don’t need to read another outrage article about how bad Trump and the Trumpist Republican party is. You knew it before he was elected, and you already know it hundreds of times more than you did then. Close your social media tabs, and get to work.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Keep Pushing

The following is a copy of the excellent thoughts that Brittany Packnett Cunningham posted on Twitter on March 10, the evening of the Tuesday after Super Tuesday, when Joe Biden had another big night over Bernie Sanders. Regardless of which nominee you back in this one race, these are tough but wise words.

I fear that the popularization of protest has folks confused about it.

Disciplined direct action has a target, strategy, and demands.

When you don’t get what you want, you keep pushing.

If you don’t get the nominee you want, you push the one you get to progressive policies.

The idea that you just quit when you don’t get the first win is not only selfish, it is, to be clear, an affront to the discipline of organizing, protest and direct action.

Your heroes *did not* throw up their hands when they didn’t get what they want. Literally none of them.

Activism and organizing are hard, taxing, long term, personal, relational, intense pursuits that require study, discipline, and COMMITMENT.

It is not episodic. It is not one and done. It is committed to the vision more than the visionary.

Your guy doesn’t clench the nomination? Well, we STILL need clean air, clean water, economic revolution, peace, justice and jobs.

You giving up on all that because your guy doesn’t win means you give up on yourself & the rest of us.

Stay committed. Push the winner. Get it done.

LBJ was a whole racist.

Like, n*ggER, hard -ER racist.

What if MLK has just thrown up his hands like KENNEDY OR NOBODY after the assassination?

He pushed LBJ. We got two Civil Rights Acts and a Voting Rights Act our of it. [link]

Stop tying your power and your freedom up in a single leader.

That is and never will be the pathway to liberation.

I’d rather have someone we can push than Orange Glo, just like I’d rather have had Hillary than this. [link]

Reduce the harm, get to the best possible outcome, then fight like hell to get what you need done.

With discipline, strategy, and clarity.

Public polling for Medicare for all, Free college and the wealth tax are strong.

Obama was a moderate and he, like many other politicians, changed their opinion and support of marriage equality as public polling changed and disciplined public pressure mounted.

If you give up fighting for your principles when the going gets tough, how committed were you to begin with?

Our elders have been fighting whether or not they had a friend in the White House-and they rarely did.

Let’s get over ourselves and get to work.

Typos all up and thru this thing but yall get it, I hope.

Goodnight. The work resumes in the morning. 🙏🏾

Love y’all. All of you.

Enjoy Your Holidays

I appreciated this advice and pep-talk from Jon Lovett of the Lovett or Leave It podcast (you can listen to the clip transcribed below here):

The time for complaining is over, it’s here, 2020 is upon us.

And I just want everybody who can to take a break this holiday. Turn off your phone if you can, tune out as much as possible, sleep late, download a meditation app, sign up for the subscription then never use it again. Do some yoga, ’cause when we wake up on January 2nd, we need to look at that calendar and find a weekend, two weekends, ten weekends, plan a trip to the closest swing state near you.

Tweeting is no longer enough. Protesting is no longer enough. Calling your Congressperson is no longer enough. It’s time to knock on some doors. It’s time to talk to every voter in every swing state you possibly can. If it’s Warren, you’re going to stop worrying about electability, you’re gonna put your boots on the ground. If it’s Biden, you’re going to stop thinking about Corn Pop and his bloody eye and you’re going to put boots on the ground. If it’s Bernie, you’re going to stop complaining about Bernie Bros online, and you’re going to become a Bernie Bro. And if it’s Buttiegieg, you’re going to learn that fucking dance and you’re going to like it!

Enjoy your Christmas. Enjoy your Hanukkah. Enjoy your New Year’s, because 2020 is going to be a long year and the closer we get to the election the more the stakes will weigh on all of us, and I just want us to keep in mind, all the twists and turns, all the emotional highs and lows, all of it will fade when we see the results. And when we’re watching those results, we won’t be in control of what happens, but we want everyone listening to this, eleven months from now, to watch those returns knowing they did all they could to get the results that we wanted.

So, eat up this holiday break, have a great time, because 2020 is the year America hits its goal weight!

I plan to follow this advice, and hope you will, too. Happy holidays, and here’s to 2020!

POSSE: Put Social Media Where it Belongs (Second)

There are plenty of problems and things to worry about with Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media sites you may use. Data privacy, addictive behaviors, concentration of power, the list goes on and on.

On the other hand, it’s hard to resist the popular sites where all the users are. For organizers and activists like us in the Indivisible movement, it’s even more important to be where all the users are. But accepting the necessity of posting to social media doesn’t mean you have to depend completely on those services.

One approach, which has been around for years but is still relevant today, is called “POSSE”, defined by its proponents like this:

POSSE is an abbreviation for Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere, a content publishing model that starts with posting content on your own domain first, then syndicating out copies to 3rd party services with links back to the original on your site.

The idea is simply that you should have your own independent web site (hosted here on, for example), and it’s the primary source. It’s fully under your control in terms of ownership and content, and it’s on the “open web”, that doesn’t require anyone to have a login to anything. Links to items on your site – events, news, calls to action, the Trump Outrage Du Jour, kitten pictures, whatever – can then be shared on whatever Facebook page, Twitter feed, or Medium thing you want.

This cross-posting can be accomplished in a number of ways. WordPress and Jetpack provide connection to the primary sites, and the indie-web network also provides syndication (as well as simple, inexpensive hosting).

Own and control your content, even if you still feed it to the social media beasts. If you have questions or suggestions on this, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Why not Wix?

I hear occasionally from groups that are considering, or have already tried, using the heavily-advertised website hosting service “Wix”. It’s a tool, and if it works for you and your budget has the $150/yr (for the minimum plan), then it may be fine. I believe it’s important to have an independent website presence, apart from just a Facebook page or Twitter account, so in my book a Wix website is better than nothing.


That is an expense, and not just this year, but for every year that anyone wants to keep that site going. And here’s where a big downside of their service becomes clear: you can’t take your site with you when you go. It’s called vendor lock-in, and it means that if you ever decide you’d rather host your site elsewhere, then you’ll essentially have to rebuild it from scratch.

From Wix’s own support article on “Exporting or Embedding Your Wix Site Elsewhere”:

Your Wix site and all of its content is hosted exclusively on Wix’s servers, and cannot be exported elsewhere.

Specifically, it is not possible to export or embed files, pages or sites, created using the Wix Editor or ADI, to another external destination or host.

This is a big reason I built on WordPress. It’s an open community, built on open source code, so it’s not only free, there’s also no vendor lock-in. You can export your entire site and move it to another WordPress provider whenever you want. Or if you already have paid WordPress hosting somewhere else, you can move it here, with minimal effort. And because WordPress is so common, open, and easy to work with, other website software often supports the WordPress export format, too (Squarespace is one example, is an even better one).

Don’t put all your web eggs in someone else’s proprietary basket if you don’t have to!