Memo to Bored Lefties With E-Mail: YOU ARE DUMB.
You may have gotten an e-mail or seen a message board posting about "Not One Damn Dime Day". It's been making the rounds of the usual places this week. The idea is that on Inauguration Day, as a protest, people don't spend money on anything for 24 hours. Not food, not gas, not toilet paper, not a single quarter in a single soda vending machine.
As far as I can tell, the idea behind it is that a couple hundred thousand Internet liberals not shopping for 24 hours will send an incredibly powerful message to our Bush-supporting, corporate overlords and, according to the e-mail, try to "shut the retail economy down". There are a number of small problems with this plan, unfortunately. The most significant and glaring flaw, of course, is that it is FUCKING STUPID.
It's not that I'm opposed to protest. It's not that I'm opposed to the taking of action to effect change. I am, however, opposed to a handful of idealistic wankers running around in circles for a day then patting themselves on the back thinking they've won the New York Marathon. Allow me to present you with the official stated objective of Not One Damn Dime Day.
"The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it. 'Not One Damn Dime Day' is to remind them, too, that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics."
There are two possibilities here. First, that this will work, and second, that it will not. For it to work, the idea has to become widespread enough, and participation high enough, that the drop in economic activity is noticed. So let's say this happens, just as a lark. Let's say the idea gets out there to tens of millions of people. Let's say these people are swayed by the charm of the awkward wording. Moved by the passion of the slightly addled rhetoric. Let's say that, in a success beyond the wildest wet dreams of a Seattle anarchist blogger, this campaign reduces all economic activity in the nation by 65% for one day.
Who will notice? Who will be hurt? Remember, this will affect everyone by the same percentage, from the Alcoa CEO who rapes dolphins on his lunch hour to the mom-and-pop hemp store down the block. Remember why, as progressives, we're in favor of PROGRESSIVE tax structures? it's because when you take the same percentage out of the income of a poor person and a rich person, the poor person is hurt more.
Ergo, the radical left has just, in essence, proposed a protest that inflicts a flat tax on the nation for 24 hours. BRILLIANT.
But that's only in the incredibly unlikely scenario in which NODDD would work at all. The numbers just aren't there, people. Nineteen percent of the actual U.S. population voted against Bush. Around 30% if you only count eligible voters. How many of that 30% will even hear about the "boycott"? How many will care? How many will care AND decide to participate? And then be able to?
How much money do they have? What would they have bought that day? Will they just buy it the day before or after? Do corporations even take note of one-day aberrations in sales trends? And even if they do, how, exactly, will that be translated into an anti-war message in their minds? One that they'll pay heed to, and do something about?
What it boils down to is that the left would like to show our rulers just how much power and influence they can wield. And unfortunately, they will. Like a four-year-old hitting his father in the shin with a couch pillow, the shin of authority will remain intact, and the worst that could happen is that a hand-made vase from Berkeley might get knocked off the coffee table. It's stupid.
I understand you feel powerless. I know you want to stick it to The Man. But the world has changed a lot in the past 40 years. The playing field is no longer on the streets, because they've shown they can ignore the streets. Remember what the various Million Blank Marches were supposed to accomplish? Me neither. Folks protested at the Republican National Convention, and were ignored. Folks protesting the inauguration are going to be ignored, too. You know why? Because it's the INAUGURATION. And while you're standing outside in your black hoodie in the cold with your sign and your Hey Hey Ho Ho, the people in power will be inside, spending more money on this party than they're committing to Asian disaster relief, and they will be laughing at you.
The battle is for eyeballs. It's for eardrums. It's for the vaunted "hearts and minds". The right wing has systematically, for three decades, controlled the public image of the left. And anything that reinforces that image, like Not One Damn Dime Day so patently does, just plays right into their hands. And is DUMB.