The most remarkable thing about the rally in Washington D.C. organized by students who survived the shooting at a Florida high school five weeks ago was its professionalism. Maybe they had coaches, but they could not have taught them their passion and determination. Even eleven year old participants were at ease at the microphone in front of a crowd estimated by the usually skeptical press at close to a million. (Unexplained is MSNBC’s claim that people marched against guns in cities around the world.)
As in every political rally in the US today, music played a big role, with well-known singers performing and egging on the crowd’s commitment to change. Raised clenched fists were ubiquitous, and recent polls show that socialism is making a comeback among American youth. The sixties missed their mark, perhaps because Black Lives Matter was still in the distant future, opposition to the Vietnam War dominating the headlines. (Although school shootings affect all communities, Black Americans are the most often victims of gun violence, and they figured prominently in the event.)
Whatever the explanation for the sixties failure to breach the barriers against socialist thought, America’s politicians now see the writing on the wall: change is coming and it is not likely to stop with a revolution in gun laws. (This makes the New Yorker’s decision to feature a dozen teen-age gun enthusiasts all the more shocking, but the US’s most sophisticated weekly often allows sophistication to win out over intelligence…)
The least we can expect from this movement, whose rallying cry today was ‘register and vote’, is that, together with the Me Too movement that is propelling female candidates, it will help the Democratic Party take back congress in the mid-term elections. The question is whether President Trump’s appointment of a rabid war-monger, Robert Bolton, as his National Security Advisor, leaving his own party aghast, will allow the country to indulge in peacetime elections in the fall. Since this appointment does not require the assent of Congress, the best we can hope for is that Trump intends it either as a distraction from testimonies by women with whom he had extra-marital affairs, or as a bargaining chip against impeachment for collusion with Russia.
On the other hand, the president’s recent career advice for students was ‘Don’t run for president’. Maybe I was not so far out on a limb when I wrote that he might resign in order to avoid the latter.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.