๐ŸŒฑ Capturing Time & Attention. Tools That Limit Movement Building

Part II: Strengthening Progressive Movements Against Co-optation

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

๐Ÿค“ Bite-Sized Knurd: Elites have systematically targeted education, entertainment, and economics as their tools to roll back the progress from the pandemic and the movements it spawned.

In Case You Missed It: The Shrinking of the Largest Progressive Movement in U.S. History

914 Capturing Time Attention

The summer of 2020 sparked a movement. Then came a period of regression.

Many of the services that the people fought hard for and won during the pandemic have been clawed back. Careful now! We donโ€™t want everyday citizens getting any ideas about how a government is supposed to support its people.

Sarcasm aside. Elites, aided by the GOP and corporate Democrats, have systematically targeted education, entertainment, and economics as their tools to roll back the progress from the pandemic and the movements it spawned. In many cases, itโ€™s happening in plain sight.



  • States have banned Pride parades and drag performances in an attempt to shame trans and queer people out of public life so no one will realize that they are people, just like everyone else.
  • Elon Muskโ€™s takeover of Twitter has made information gathering and sharing more difficult generally and for progressive movements.
  • As dumb as the conservative Barbie hysteria was, it was an attempt to stop the tidal wave of support for the progressive, feminist message against the patriarchy.


  • Inflation was a tool for corporations to reap more profits while limiting worker power and blaming it on wages to deflect from their wealth hoarding. Many actually said the quiet part out loud on earnings calls.
  • 40 million people will start paying student loans again in October, which could cause a downturn in the economy. At a time when low and middle-income families barely have savings, they will need to cut needed expenses to pay their loans again.
  • The quiet quitting phenomenon was warped in the press as a way to blame younger generations for not wanting to work anymore when in reality itโ€™s recognizing that โ€œgoing above and beyondโ€ is free labor.

Capturing Our Time & Attention

All of these examples limit the influence of everyday people in the United States. And it doesnโ€™t take long to see how. Attempts to censor education and entertainment are attempts to capture our culture. The goal is to make it seem like conservative values are much more popular than they are.

Economic squeezes on the lower and middle class mean less leisure time and being more tied to their jobs. With less economic flexibility, thereโ€™s less room to focus on transformational change, because people are just focused on getting by day to day.

The threads of these consequences and how they ripple out as more issues are thrown at the public. Itโ€™s no wonder, thereโ€™s less time and space for movement building!

Does Intention Matter?

A lot of people donโ€™t like the uncertainty and want a villain. Two things can be true. There are many villains out there and not everything is a conspiracy. Sometimes, these decisions happen because of the systems that weโ€™re playing in.

Whether CEOs all sat around a campfire in Jackson Hole smoking cigars plotting to raise inflation and limit real wages or not is beside the point.

The outcome is the same. Workers are being squeezed by companies who are passing off their profits to shareholders instead of the people who created those profits. And theyโ€™re doing it because they can.

As Olรบfแบนฬmi O. Tรกรญwรฒ outlines in Elite Capture, the real problem is the system itself, โ€œthe rules of interaction that produced the elites in the first place.โ€

Limiting Our Influence

As we watch the backlash to the 2020 movement unfold, itโ€™s clear some people felt threatened. Reckoning with the country's racial past and solving the climate crisis doesnโ€™t exactly help the elite classโ€™ pocketbooks and it shrinks their influence.

But one question still looms, was it a backlash or merely a continuation of the status quo?

โ€œThere is no such thing as a backlash, just a continuation of racism and those with power reinforcing their institutions and ways of life.โ€ - Stokely Carmichael

Elites in this country, who are more likely to be wealthy, conservative, white, and male, have amassed outsized power in our politics and culture. They have used their power to maintain the status quo at all costs.

Unfortunately for them, the world continues to turn and change is inevitable. โ€œGod is change,โ€ as Octavia Butler tells us.

The simple truth is the world is different than it was in 2019. Change is inevitable. And the majority in this country is a progressive majority despite what our rigged electoral system tells us.

The question that we attempt to answer next week is what do we do in our movements to avoid elite capture so we can get to the real change?

  • Did you catch our Tuesday, Storytelling for Change article on how we can navigate social media at a time of volatility?

  • Need fresh eyes on your digital communications before EOY fundraising kicks off? Reach out about our messaging and digital audits.

  • What Weโ€™re Reading ๐Ÿ“š

    • How 9/11 changed the lives of Muslims globally. Itโ€™s important we recognize the ripple effects of that day and the U.S. response.

    • ๐ŸŽง Podcast alert: As depression and anxiety rates rise, itโ€™s important to understand suicide prevention. Learn how to be a good support system for your people in hard times. My friend, Tracy F. Kadessa, speaks with Marc Bryant Director of Suicide Prevention at LivingWorks Australia.

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Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support communicators, organizations, and activists ๐Ÿฅต to avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.

Learn more about the Roots of Change Agency.