By David Andersson
After the March for Our Lives rallies that mobilized millions of people the main focus for gun control activists is gaining political power. This a great direction, seeking to engage people in the democratic process, and was really the missing piece of the Occupy Movement a few years ago.
We see progressive organizations asking people to register to vote and listen to students threatening elected officials that they could loose their seats if they don’t pass legislation banning semi-automatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy guns, and establishing more comprehensive background checks.Stopping there, however, will not be enough. Our formal democracy gives more power to the elected officials than to the people who vote for them and this strategy dilutes the movement by waiting on pressured politicians to do the right thing. When people are elected the game changes for them – it’s no longer about wining people over but rather keeping one’s seat, making sure the opposition party doesn’t gain any space and you are properly enough aligned with your own party to win the primary.
Nothing has changed since Columbine and nothing will change after Marjory Stoneman Douglas if we don’t do something at the level of the Civil Rights Movement. We can’t naively believe that a few marches will produce any change. To make these type of changes we need to disrupt the economical and political power at its core.
We have to make a new proposition that goes beyond voting and addresses the founding problem of our society, which is VIOLENCE. The number of guns in our country is crazy but the level of poverty and homelessness, the disparity between the poor and the rich, the level of military spending, the economical and technological concentration of resources, the concentration and manipulation of media, the paralysis in front of climate change, the discrimination against racial, religious and sexual minorities, and the total decline of human rights is even crazier as well amoral and despicable.
We need a new generation of sincere and courageous youth to run for elections, to create a nonviolent political front to gain social and direct political power against the established political machine. This has already been done in Chile: after the 2006 student protests called the Penguin Revolution, the movement transformed into many small political formations created and run by the students themselves. Many of these organizations recently launched a common political front call Frente Amplio. After only one year in existence the front received 20% of the general vote at the last election in the fall and are represented by one senator and twenty deputies (including Camila Rojas, 26, the youngest deputy ever elected in Chile).
This is an opportunity for all of us to imagine a new political landscape based on fundamental human values. Our democracy needs fresh air; as we saw during the marches, millions of people are ready to help and get mobilized.