I just looked it up: “torpor. : a state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility : extreme sluggishness or stagnation of function.”
It’s my diagnosis for America. Every election here in Texas, people say, “We’re not a red state, we’re a non-voting state,” “Turnout is everything, ” and “If people would only vote…” It’s not just voting, either.
Every public action lives or dies by its numbers, and those numbers are often in the twenties. True, the protests associated with Trump’s 2017 inauguration brought more people into America’s streets than ever before in America’s history. The 2018 turnout wasn’t bad, either.
Activists are holding their breaths to see what kind of turnout they will get when/if Trump fires Mueller or Rosenstein. I’m holding my breath over it for a slightly different reason: the call is for a major public action either at five PM on the day of the firing or at noon the next day. I want to see what would happen if the protest occurred at noon on a workday.
Virtually all major calls for public protests occur on Saturday, Sunday, or a Holiday. That’s because turnout is paramount. It’s also because Americans are not familiar with the idea of a general strike. Sometimes called a political strike, it means that people take off work over something bigger than a shop-floor issue. It’s a weapon we desperately need in our American arsenal, but we haven’t done much about it so far.
What’s the Cure?
If non-participation is the symptom and torpor is the diagnosis, what do we do about it?The first step toward a remedy is to understand the problem. Our American torpor is partially a product of our ignorance, partly our arrogance, but mostly comes from our fear. Americans are afraid to stand up together.
The remedy, my friend, is you. You have to be the one to vote, to speak out, and to protest. When other people see you showing courage, they will have a little more courage of their own. This, of course, is not a simple remedy. It will take time and a lot of work.