The March for Science and the Fragmentation of the Opposition in the USA

The recent march for science that was initially inspired by the U.S. scientific community’s initiative to protest the scientific denials of President Trump’s administration and the potential cuts on scientific funding, and that ignited other science agenda-based marches across the world, confirms the failure of the silo-driven opposition movements across the United States.   This march is no different then the 2017 women’s march that followed President Trump’s presidential inauguration. Not only did it lack an integrative character but it centered on individual group-based advocacy agendas that were not inclusive but exclusive.

The individualistic silo-driven model of this and other demonstrations that have surfaced under the Trump administration reflect the nature of the opposition movement in our country.  Social initiatives that, for the most part, are not only mainstream centralist but lack cohesion because of their own agenda-based fragmentation. We have reached such levels of specialization that just this weekend the scientific community had to launch their own demonstration, splintering from the already split women’s initiative, the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the DREAmers, and the anti-travel ban movement.

Even though all advocacy groups could find common ground and junctions where they could build cooperation and solidarity, the power of individualism overshadows communitarianism.  There is no cooperation between advocacy groups and instead their is an agenda-based battle that confronts all groups, all pulling and pushing for their own self-interests.

It seems that in this current era there is no space for the construction of cohesive alliances between advocacy groups, there is no coordinated opposition against the Trump administration. Groups like the scientists are emerging as new stakeholders in the grassroots democratic debate not because of their communitarian/humanitarian interests, but because of their own intellectual and financial self-interests. Proof of this was the criticisms that surfaced prior to the march as a result of their lack of solidarity and inclusion, just as the women’s march earlier this year.

The opposition movements in the United States are in such a state of disarray that they are incapable of bringing together all the political voices into one room. It is the reason why the individualistic silo-based agenda predominates, and it is the reason why the social movements are fragmented and unable to impact policy today.

This fragmented opposition engineered by the Democratic Party’s elites, structured and institutionalized for almost seventy years, now is incapable of putting the pieces back together in order to construct a collective voice. Not even Senator Sanders can rebuild the cohesion of the opposition because, as he well knows, only a new collective grassroots initiative can bring it back to life, threatening the long-term interests of the mainstream Democratic Party.

This weekend’s march for science will have no impact on policy just like all the other fragmented initiatives of the recent months. True impact will only be achieved if all groups are willing to abandon their silos and collectively strategize in order to build national cohesion. A common cause must be identified and the Trump administration might serve as a catalyst for this new social and democratic initiative; a new movement that might bring all the opposition groups together under one voice.

This would of course be the worse scenario for the Democratic Party here in Maine and across the nation, if one recognizes that the fragmentation strategy was the golden formula that gave them leverage over the Republican Party.   Claiming to be the voice of women in one state, the voice of Latinos in another, the voice of African American in the south, and the voice of the working class across the nation served them well until the last election, but it will not help them down the road.

Protesting to our leadership is not the answer. Placing our hopes on politicians that work for the forces of the market is not the way to go. New solutions for old problems are not rooted in the right or the left. Solutions I believe may be found in another paradigm that is yet to be constructed, one that is set beyond our current simplistic worldview that impede us from exploring alternative solutions. In a globalized world we need global solutions that start with innovative local solutions. The connectivity of the global begins with the dismantling of the local silos that separate us and impede us from working together for common causes such as economic justice, social justice, human rights, gender rights, and global citizenship rights.

It would be empowering to see all active social advocacy groups abandon their silos; feminist groups working with immigrant groups, racial advocacy groups working with income gap groups, and scientists working with civil society. Transformational change is not just protesting for the sake of protesting and making a show, the impact would be to see the scientific community abandon their comfort zone and reach out to the masses, educating them about the importance of facts in their own decision making process.  Science is clearly more powerful when it abandons the classroom, the lab, and when the message reaches millions instead of the few who read the prestigious scientific journals.

Stefano Tijerina

About Stefano Tijerina

My name is Stefano Tijerina and this blog’s objective is to connect Maine’s social, environmental, economic, cultural, and political issues to the global system, centering on how the local impacts the global and how the global impacts the local or what is known in Global Studies as the "Glocal" effect. In our present era of globalization it is crucial for the general public to understand how the new dynamics of the international system impact our lives here in Maine and how our local decisions impact the earth. These are my personal views, and they do not express those of the University of Maine System or the University of Maine.