Don’t rage -- engage: This Classical grad explains how to make real change in the age of Twitter

(Photo by KENA BETANCUR,MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by KENA BETANCUR,MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)AFP via Getty Images

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Happy Monday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Edward Fitzpatrick and I am here because Dan McGowan is fleeing the snow and taking his talents to South Beach for the week. Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to Edward.Fitzpatrick@globe.com.

Do you begin your day by checking your Twitter feed for the latest political outrage out of Washington? Do you jump on Facebook to cheer or boo, argue and debate? Do you rage to friends and family about President Trump -- or the Democrats opposing Trump?


If so, you might be engaging in “political hobbyism,” according to a new book by Tufts University political science Professor Eitan D. Hersch, a Providence native and 2001 Classical High School graduate.

While political hobbyists tell themselves they’re informed and engaged, Hersch warns that there’s a downside to their activity and it’s a poor substitute for the real work that leads to political power.

In the book -- “Politics is for Power,” which comes out Jan. 14 -- Hersch reports that one-third of Americans spend at least two hours a day on politics. But four out of five say that activity involves TV news, podcasts, social media – and not a minute of real political work.

Hersch says treating politics like a game – like an outsized Red Sox/Yankees rivalry – makes politics worse by encouraging politicians to feed “the red meat of outrage to their respective bases.” And, he says, “Hobbyism is a serious threat to democracy because it is taking well-meaning citizens away from pursuing power. The power vacuum will be filled.”


The book provides examples of ordinary people making extraordinary impacts on their communities by getting involved in politics. And it suggests five ways to be politically active: Do it in person, do it with friends, do it with empathy, do it locally, and do it forever.

“My whole life I’ve heard Rhode Islanders complain about corruption and dysfunction in state and local politics,” Hersch told the Globe. Listening to podcasts or following the drama in Washington won’t bring about the needed change, he said. “If you really care, you need to be willing to engage in the slow and steady process face-to-face.”


Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you’ve got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

• In this week’s “Ocean State Innovators” Q&A, Karla E. Vigil, CEO of the Equity Institute, identifies steps Rhode Island can take to recruit and retain teachers of color -- a key issue identified in the Johns Hopkins University report on Providence public schools.

Amanda Milkovits reports on the deportation of a Providence man who is accused of leading a paramilitary unit in Guatemala that tortured and murdered dozens of indigenous Mayans in the 1980s.

• Brown University’s Marc J. Dunkelman has a timely piece in Politico Magazine titled “This Is Why Your Holiday Travel Is Awful: The long, sordid history of New York’s Penn Station shows how progressives have made it too hard for the government to do big things — and why, believe it or not, Robert Caro is to blame.”


A Boston Globe editorial argues that “Harvard, MIT, and other top colleges and universities in New England should lead the country, as they have in so many other arenas, by ending legacy admissions.”

• My sons gave the “Knives Out” mystery movie two thumbs up, and if you agree, you will want to read “The story behind the Easton mansion in ‘Knives Out,’” by Kevin Slane.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien are set to make a “major economic development announcement” at the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center at 12:30 this afternoon -- one week after the PawSox announced they will become the WooSox when they move to Worcester for the 2021 season.

• The McCoy Stadium and Pawtucket Downtown RFP Review Committee is scheduled to meet at noon, just before the announcement, to consider “the investment of public funds” for the project. The Valley Breeze has reported a United Soccer League team appears poised to pursue a $400 million project that includes a soccer stadium in Pawtucket.


US Senator Jack Reed, Governor Raimondo, and P rovidence Mayor Jorge Elorza will join Goldman Sachs executives at 11 a.m. at the WaterFire Arts Center to celebrate the third graduation of the 10,000 Small Businesses program, which aims to expand access to capital and provide business education to local small business owners.

• The 31st commemoration of World AIDS Day will be observed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket. The event is hosted by the Rhode Island HIV/STI Prevention Coalition.

• The Rhode Island Department of Transportation today will start to change exit numbers on Interstate 195 from the I-95 interchange in Providence to the Massachusetts border in East Providence as part of a multi-year program to update highway numbering.

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Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @FitzProv. See you tomorrow.

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