Are Your Political Computer Stickers Really Enough?

By Elana Klein

A walk across Tulane’s campus will familiarize you with the trends of white, upper-middle class, liberal America. You will be met with “The future is female” tote-bags, witty anti-trump t-shirts, and, of course, a plethora of laptop stickers. This should be to no one’s surprise, as Tulane’s study body tends to lean left.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the popularization and normalization of progressive ideas. However, if being a liberal is reduced to a trend, we will hold no power in the political system. So if you really do care about the issues you claim to care about, is it enough to buy an Obama sticker for your computer on Redbubble?

No, it’s not. As a notoriously affluent student body, with 12.8% of students coming from families in the top one percent, we have the potential to influence politics in ways other than voting. Use your (or your parent’s) disposable income in ways that positively contribute to your party.

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Don’t let Urban Outfitters’ conservative CEO profit off of your leftist political views by purchasing one of their “I’m a Voter” t-shirts from the UO Community Cares collection. If you want your views publicized, buy your politically-charged apparel from nonprofit organizations dedicated to pursuing an agenda that you support. The election-themed shirts that Urban Outfitters strategically put out in the wake of the Kavanaugh uproar cost thirty dollars. That’s thirty dollars that could have been donated to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, or the campaign of a politician you support. By all means, let people know you’re voting. But understand the hypocrisy of proclaiming your woke-ness through the consumption of a large corporation’s apparel.

I am not suggesting that the only way to contribute is by doing so with your wealth. If you haven’t realized, there are convenient ways to tangibly tackle the issues you claim to care about. Being that you attend a prestigious university comprised mostly of New Yorkers and Californians, you are literally surrounded by people your age who share your political ideology. Women in Politics, College Democrats, SURJ, The Newcomb Prison Project, and SAPHE are just a few examples of progressive clubs on campus.

No one benefits from your casual anti-Trump banter. Progressive movements cannot be seen as legitimate when a Snapchat story from The Women’s March is the full extent of your activism. Professing your so-called political involvement on social media does not make you an altruist. Don’t adhere to the stereotype of the ultra-liberal, faux-alternative college student who echos empty statements to the point of conformity.

Not everyone needs to be a political organizer, but everyone who claims to care needs to do much more than hold up a “The NRA can eat my ass” sign at The March for Our Lives.

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There are definitely benefits of the mass-market appeal of liberal culture. A large turnout at a protest is one way to prove our legitimacy, but is far from what we need to actually push a progressive agenda. So please refrain from patting yourself on the back after participating in one event that you probably only attended for the Instagram post. Social media has the power to create change, but a picture of you and your friends in your Canada Gooses holding up posters is not how that’s going to happen.

There is nothing progressive about posting something that appeases your liberal Instagram followers. Develop a nuanced opinion on something you are passionate about and start a discussion. Have a respectful debate with someone you disagree with. Register to vote or call your senators. If every upper-middle class teenager at the Women’s March was actually as politically empathetic as they claimed to be, things would be different.