So it has come to my attention that there’s a movement afoot to have a sort of second Buy-Nothing Day on Thursday to protest the inauguration. In the posting that alerted me to this there is a link to the Turn Your Back on Bush campaign. But that site says nothing about refraining from spending on inauguration day. Apparently Not One Damn Dime Day is a separate, spontaneous campaign which has been piggy-backed onto TYBoB.
So back to this no spending business: Uh, what the hell is that supposed to accomplish? Doesn’t that fall under the heading of cutting off your nose to spite your face? I realize to some there is no distinction between the Bush Dynasty and Corporate America (a subsidiary of Pure Unalloyed Evil, LLC). But get a grip. What do you hope to prove?
First of all, practically speaking, be realistic: you will not even be a blip on the economic radar. I’m the first to root for ideological lost causes; but this has no chance of catching on to a point that anyone will notice. The election proved that even organized, mobilized, and stirred up to a fever pitch the activist minority isn’t big enough to make much of a difference; a few emails circulated a few days before the event aren’t going to do squat.
But let’s disregard practical concerns, and address the contention that it’s Just The Right Thing To Do. No, it’s not. Even assuming you will have a perceptible economic effect, you’re just hurting a bunch of commercial establishments that have nothing to do with Bush, Iraq, or whetever else you’re protesting. Zip. Nada. Oh, and cementing the popular impression of yourselves as a bunch of bitter contrarians who prefer lashing out in whatever direction is available to taking constructive, positive action.
Granted, I think having a second gala inauguration for an administration that’s already in power is stupid and wasteful. And I realize that a lot of people have some very strong feelings about this president, and an inauguration is the perfect opportunity to give vent to those feelings. I also think that the administration’s approach to handling protests at the inauguration has been graceless and in very bad form. But this, frankly, is a dumb way to protest.
I am increasingly disgusted with the state of protest in this nation. Like it or not, there are very real limits on how much capital, both monetary and political; energy; and most of all, public attention can be mustered up for dissent. The more of those precious resources that is squandered on pointless, self-defeating initiatives, the less remains for the kind of action which actually touches hearts and changes minds.