March Madness and Outrage Fatigue

Students Rally in front of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Student walked out of school to protest gun violence in the biggest demonstration yet of the student activism that has emerged in response to last month's massacre of 17 people at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

There is another anti-gun boycott coming, apparently. Young, Second Amendment-hating Twitter activists are leading the charge. Again.

My first reaction wasn’t anger or ridicule, it was fatigue.


“Another one?”, I thought to myself. “I don’t think I have the bandwidth for this.”

I’m a professional opinion writer. I get paid to tell people what I think. I get paid to react to the political landscape and all the happenings therein.

And I’m exhausted.

I can only imagine what the average American who doesn’t have their head in politics all day every day must be thinking. My suspicion is that most people are equally exhausted. Not because they don’t care or don’t have passionate feelings about the issues of the day. Americans care deeply about a lot of things, which is why political discourse is often so strained.

No, I suspect that most Americans – like me – are simply running out of room for outrage. It is one thing to have a heated conversation about gun control or abortion with a family member or co-worker, it is quite another to take a day off work, buy sign-making supplies, knit a hat and head out to a march against something but that has no real action items to accomplish. It’s even more daunting when you take into account the idea of traveling to a central strategic location like Washington, D.C. to protest.

During the Civil Rights and anti-war protests of the sixties, we saw how effective marching in great numbers can be. Our nation had never seen anything like it. They were very effective in many ways. Perhaps the most effective part of the marches is that they all had very clear, stated goals.

Get Jim Crow off the books. Get out of Vietnam.


When I attended the 2016 Women’s March in San Francisco I asked two questions of every person I spoke to:

What are you afraid might happen in the next four years?

What do you want to see happen?

Almost to a man and a woman the answer was, “I don’t know.”

Certainly every person was there because they were concerned for our nation’s future, but there was no cohesiveness in the message. There were no clear goals. Some of the speakers were protesting for open borders. Some were protesting for abortion rights. Some were just mad that Donald Trump was the president. Some wanted marijuana laws changed and others were there to defend Obamacare. It was a cornucopia of issues with no real goals in sight.

Over the last decade Americans have been inundated with march after march.

March for Life. March for Our Lives. Black Lives Matters. Million Man March. Million Woman March. Million Moms March. Tea Party marches. LGBT marches. Marches for climate change. Marches for science. Women’s March. Pride March. March for a National Popular Vote. March for Tax Reform. March for Truth. March for Trump.

March-a, March-a, March-a!

I’m all for making our voices heard but what is all of this marching actually accomplishing? I’m willing to bet many average Americans are asking themselves the same question every time they hear about the next march.

The problem with the never-ending glut of marches in the last decade is two-fold.

1)The legacy media only covers the issues they find palatable, leaving groups like March for Life out of the conversation, even though they consistently represent a large swath of the general public.


2)The legacy media only frames these marches in terms of anger, rarely positivity. Rage gets the headlines, but it’s rarely an effective tool for change.

While there is some genuine concern surrounding the issue of gun rights in this country, the constant flow of marches is beginning to water down whatever effectiveness may have existed in the beginning. The same can certainly be said for the Women’s March.

What are the goals? What are the bullet points that a mom or dad in Utah can sit down to discuss with their kids? What specific law do you want changed, or stricken? If there is no action agenda behind it, it’s just sound and fury.

Frankly, I think Americans have had their fill of sound and fury. We are at peak outrage, and most of us just want to know how we can effect change without leaving our workstations every three weeks. And when our “issues” leaders insist on replacing information with screaming it just leads to fatigue and that leads to indifference and indifference is the most dangerous consequence in a constitutional republic.

March Madness is making us all mad.



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