Reading time: 3:00 | Campaigning is to lobby for whatever you may think is worth the effort. And it fosters democracy.
As we all know, talking to the US president, the UK’s PM, or the French president is the privilege of a very few. Actually, for many of us, even talking to our bosses at work can be a privilege. In a society built upon hierarchy, reaching out to the people with power requires power. Where to get that power? At least at the ballot boxes, one might argue. With our vote, we can promote the party which represents our needs best—the concept of representative democracy.
But over time, political parties have turned partly into platforms for the individual interests of the rich. They’ve lost a big chunk of their original role as the voice for the average guy and the public welfare, challenging their legitimacy as democratic powers. Unfortunately, that is true across the board, from the left to the right, creating political disenchantment–also across the board. Such a development makes perfect sense when we acknowledge the enormous social progress that has been made in western democracies in the last century, taking away much of the focus on social issues. This has left a political vacuum on the left, and opened the door for right-wing ideologies.
Today, issues like starvation or bad health are no longer seen as a mass phenomenon based on class and ancestry. Such problems are broadly understood as the individual citizens’ problems, particularly on the political right. The left somewhat accepted such opinions, failed Jane and Joe by stopping to put up resistance. Now we live in a world where many Janes and Joes lost their faith in solidarity and seek their salvation in nationalism and disdain for progression.
I don’t believe in phrases like, “if you really want it, you can achieve it”. I’ve seen people who really wanted to achieve things, worked hard, and failed spectacularly. I also know people who made similar efforts but achieved much more than they had anticipated from the start. Individual success (and power, for that matter) is a thing of luck, ancestry, and will. First, luck and ancestry, then will.
Here is the thing. When one accepts that the world isn’t centred on one alone but everyone else too, we might understand that the individual pursuit of happiness is driven by the social body we are part of. Thus, forging with like-minded people an alliance on particular issues will create the power of the many, eventually giving the case the badly needed break in the political proceedings.
Because such alliances flood the world every day, every minute, every second with their messages and can’t be overlooked, these alliances offer the politicians the permission to follow common sense and act on the proclaimed issues. It’s a common misconception that only threats like the imminent loss of a seat at the ballots will make a politician act. Constant dripping wears away the stone.
Do these alliances have to speak with one voice, as political parties traditionally do? Of course not! In today’s world of diversity and individual expression, the issue itself stands in the foreground, not the individual leader of an organisation.
But wait, don’t we need faces anymore? Of course, do we need faces! Faces are more critical than ever. Faces de-abstract things, make them concrete. Only faces make people relate and connect to an issue on a personal level. And if there’s an issue of common concern, in such an alliance there are many, thousands, millions of faces behind that issue.
If we show our face connected with an issue, that’s a campaign: on the street, on social media, in the club, at home, at school, at work, at university, wherever we are. Everyone can be part of campaigns. Or better, if we understand that we all can be little campaigns by ourselves, we come back to democracy’s core: the power of the people.
Let’s start with our battle against climate emergency. Let’s start a zillion campaigns.