Politics vs. Politicians
What is the most effective way to bring about change: through politics, or through politicians? Yes, there is a difference.
When I say politics, I mean focused conversation that results in action. When I say politicians, I mean an individual or individuals whose personality or personalities propel people to act. When thinking about bettering everybody’s lives collectively, these are basically the two ways to do it. Which is best?
The need for a charismatic leader to inspire action is especially prevalent when dealing with non-majority groups/movements. However, relying on this often results in change that not sustainable once this person is no longer in power (due to stepping down, removal, assassination, etc.). This would not be the case if leaders would set up reasonable succession plans, but that is another topic for another day.
Making policy the foundation and not a person has the potential to be a more sustainable movement. The challenge with this approach is that something has to get it started. It is unbelievably difficult to organize people around an issue, no matter how compelling, without a mouthpiece or poster child.
Black folks, and other groups around the world fighting for change, have always had to ask themselves this question. Both have had varying levels of success in different situations at different times for different reasons.
I see a hybrid approach that begins with a charismatic leader (e.g. Brandon) observing a need and beginning to start conversations around that issue. As people converse and realize that they have collective common interests, it is the people at large who should drive the solution brainstorming process, settling on their best courses of action. The people then can funnel their viewpoints through the leader, who must be willing to forgo their own ego for the sake of the group.
Is that even possible? I sure hope so because I see it as the only sustainable path to change on a large scale. This is true because everybody is not going to be that leader. But, everybody is able to participate in a movement. It’s up to us to find what we care about and where we fit.
Do we care enough to do this to give this a shot? Yes, but it’s hard. Maybe if we take some baby steps, we can all start to get closer to this vision.
One Love. One II.