I guess it is obvious, but it should be said that the horrific mass shooting and murder in San Bernardino yesterday underscores the importance of defeating right wing Republicans and Republicans generally in next year’s election. It won’t be easy, especially at the congressional level.
But is there any other pathway to pass gun control legislation, provide adequate funding for mental health clinics, guarantee living wage jobs for all, and create (or at least begin to create) a culture of non-violence, equality, mutual caring, and respect for one another? Now don’t tell me, “Elections in our ‘political oligarchy’ don’t matter. Only mass struggle counts.” People on the streets are part of the equation of social change for sure, but it’s not the only variable in the equation. If you don’t believe me then check out historical experience.
Moments of transformative change in the 20th century (Great Depression/New Deal, Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s, Rise of right wing extremism and neoliberalism in the last two decades of the 20th century) included qualitative changes at the electoral and governmental level as well as lots of people in the streets – not to mention new ideas and organizational forms, persuasive messaging, strategic insight, and flexible tactics.
It wasn’t one or the other arena of struggle that made the difference, but several interacting with each other that set the stage for the transformative changes in the 20th century that people desired, but despaired at times would ever happen.
I suspect that ending violence – mass shootings and its many other forms – will take a similar creative mix of struggle – at the ballot box, in the streets and corridors of political/legislative power, and, not least, at the level of ideas and values.