Today was the longest day — 21 miles through the 13 Mile Woods on the way to Milan, NH. Not incredibly cold (once the walking got going), and not much snow (brief flurries). Endless and striking beauty.
Long walks beget long talks. There was a documentary film crew with us for the first few days. We devoted miles to the question whether this is a story that can be told in film. The simple story of course can — the story of criminals, the account of how little our democracy responds. But can a film show anything beyond the failures, with an understanding beyond simple corruption?
As we talked it through (me, skeptical; she, hopeful), it struck me the most important bit to notice about this movement is its echo with the progressive movement 125 years ago. Not just in substance (since there’s much that similar about the substance), but more importantly, in tactics. That movement was many different movements of many different kinds, that eventually found a way to push in a roughly similar direction (to improve democracy by ending corrupt democracy); it had no single leader; it had no central plan; indeed, for much of the movement, it didn’t even have radio.
So too for this movement, now. We’re in the post-broadcasting era, when none can count on a few platforms to make this central to everyone. And we’re in the essentially-partisan era, when it may be too much to ask anyone to associate openly with the other team. What works in times like this is many different parts with very different characters moving roughly in the same direction. At least if, eventually, they can capture the attention of distracted “leaders.”
The most hopeful bit of this part (NHRebellion.org) of this larger movement is its success in growing that diversity. Here’s an oped in the Nashua Telegraph co-authored by Andrew Hemingway (Libertarian/TeaParty candidate in the GOP primary for governor) and Dan Weeks (director of Granny D’s Open Democracy project).
The day ended with Aaron Swartz’s film, The Internet’s Own Boy. The best line is his father’s: The question now is what we do.
We continue the work, and make it work, in the thousand fields in which he walked.
Sub-zero temperatures greet us this morning, with a brisk and deadly wind.