After the inaugural, some 3.7 million people took to the streets to protest the new president, or about 1% of the entire population. A dust-up ensued over how many attended the main event the day before, generally estimated at 0.5 million. Popularity is important in an era of perception, so the arguments over this are not going to stop soon.
More important than perception, however, is the immediacy of tactics. No one marching in protest believed anything is going to change immediately, but that was both the main point and beside the point. The marches are for nothing more than to hold on, to stop change, to paralyze. It’s not actually a strategy but a tactic.
We live in a time where actual strategy does not exist and there are only tactics – the raw emotions and gains of the moment. Nothing is actually going to change until that does.
If there is one world leader meant for times like this, it is Vladimir Putin. Loyal readers know I have long feared him and his influence on the world while decrying him as nothing more than a petty thug – not the Don of the mafia state by and for the Bratva, but really its chief Enforcer. What may be more surprising is that I reluctantly have to respect him as a leader, but not for his actual leadership ability.
Putin is a terrible strategist, but an excellent tactician.
To me, a strategy is little more than a roadmap. It begins with a clear understanding of both a goal and the starting point, gradually fleshing out the lay of the land. It should never change unless there is information which tells you that the map is different than you thought. Tactics, by contrast, are what take you down that road and help you navigate the obstacles to the goal. They include such mundane items as “We advance 20 miles today” or the more involved “We take the side road to avoid construction.”
The incoming administration, like its apparent master Putin, is not one for strategy. They don’t care one bit what the road ahead is like, only that some advancement is made taking advantage of every opportunity that arises. It engages when it has to and pushes out a new tactic when it can, always bending the arc of the journey to its own will.
The opposition is stuck with the same game, sadly, engaging constantly with little clear vision of the goal or how it may be approached. While an excellent tactical game plan has been outlined, taken directly from the tactics used by the right for eight years, it should be noted that it is nothing more than a series of tactics. The unstated goal is hardly a goal at all – keep the losses to a minimum. The lay of the land? Unimportant. We are not moving anywhere, we are only fighting.
This is not a time for strategy. It is a time for tactics. Which is to say that we have already lost because we are stuck playing the other side’s game – a conservative game based on status quo, not on actual progress.
That didn’t stop anyone from marching, of course, because holding on is very important. Progressives are angry and afraid, and for good reasons. There is a lot to be fearful of as an administration bent on turning back the clock to a better time which never existed theoretically has to define just what that means. They won’t, of course, because they have no interest in strategy. This will be nothing more than conflict, nothing more than game playing.
Anger, for its own sake, is hardly productive. It is an essential response to the “gaslighting” wave of unreality which we are being bombarded with because it sets up a defensive perimeter for our own sanity. It is a moment when the adrenaline of “fight or flight” has not yet made a decision, and in that extended moment is both salvation and the poison. Neither of those instincts lead to real progress, which can only come from hope and love. But anger protests us from unreality and may yet motivate people to come together to create the hope and love and clear vision that demands a strategy to achieve it.
We aren’t there yet. These are times for nothing more than tactics, nothing more than marching, nothing more than showing up and freezing the moment. Nothing will change until we get beyond this and working with a clear strategy that makes clear not only a great vision but a path to achieving it.
These are days for tactics. As such, they are not days for progress. In this darkness frustration and fear may protect our sanity, but they will not sustain us for long.