To me, a key insight from my book, from Multiple Stream Analysis, and from looking at history more broadly, is that it’s not enough to be “right” about an issue (like, say, the equal fundamental dignity deserved by all human races, classes, creeds, genders, and more; or the fundamental value and dignity deserved by non-human nature). It’s also not enough to “do” the “right things” (e.g. get the tactics, strategy, appeal, mobilization, etc. right). We have to recognize that we’re gonna have to have both of those things, and do them again and again. Failure doesn’t necessarily mean we did something wrong (though it can mean that), because systems don’t change just because you’re right and have done the right thing. They change when people keep doing the “right things” (or as close as we can) again and again.
A difficult corollary of this is that urgency doesn’t change this dynamic. That is, even when a problem is of the utmost, even existential importance (say, climate change), that doesn’t mean we can afford to think of changing society to address it in a “one big moment” mentality.* No matter how urgent, and no matter how well-planned and executed, there are going to be a lot of moments where we’ll need to try again, dust ourselves off, and try again, try again…
*”We must resist a “one moment” mentality. These folks are not scared of us having one rally. They
will actually have a picnic while you having a rally. You have one great big rally; they have a picnic
sit right there. And when you leave, they’ll go right back inside and pass whatever bills they want to.
But if we come together in a fusion movement, I believe we can reshape the political landscape and
shift the center of political gravity. Somebody say Together. (Together) That’s the power together
when our protests and our legal arguments and our movements look like this room, in all of this
beauty and all of this diversity and when farmers are standing with teachers and teachers are standing
with farmers and environmentalists are standing with healthcare advocates and healthcare advocates
are standing with LGBT community and LGBT community is standing with the Civil Rights
community, and the Civil Rights community is standing with the immigrant community and the antiwar
folks are standing with those who are anti-unjust tax policy, when we ALL get together, that‟s
when we win. That is when we change America. Not just change one election, but we change the very
consciousness of this country.” — Rev. William Barber, II; see also the important, exciting work of the Poor People’s Campaign