Destructive Anger

Oh, my God, people! Get a grip.

I get it. The prospect of Donald Trump becoming president is scary as hell. I was hoping that the Electoral College would do the right thing, but I wasn’t expecting it. It would have been even more unprecedented than Trump, the most completely unqualified candidate in history, becoming president in the first place. After all, the people who are chosen as electors are, like convention delegates, party faithful. And if there is one thing we know about the Republican Party in this day and age, it’s that they don’t care about anything but winning. So, yeah, I’m worried and I am more determined than ever to do something to change things in the progressive movement. I’m tired of permanently being forced to sit on the outside as the right wing pushes us down the shitter. I am frustrated and I am worried and I am exhausted from holding my breath far too often over the past 40+ years.

But one thing I am not is angry.

There’s no point to anger, especially in politics. I’m not a Buddhist, but one of my favorite quotes regarding anger comes from Buddha:

“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”

When was the last time you were moved by someone else’s anger? I’m willing to bet never. We understand anger and we can sometimes relate to it, but we are never moved in a positive direction by it. It’s negative in scope and, frankly, with the current state of the Republican Party, especially under Trump, there is already more than enough anger in politics. Now, you may think the rise of Trump means there is plenty of room for anger in the system, but you would be wrong. Trump barely received more votes than Mitt Romney in 2012 (fewer, if you factor in population change), and he ended up losing by nearly 3 million votes; it’s not like he won because there was a groundswell of support for his angry persona. The “Fuck You Caucus” didn’t put him over the top, the number of people who stayed home because they hate the anger and vitriol once again prevented the Democrats from gaining seats. In other words, because the Republican Party’s main strategy is to depress turnout, anger helps them and hurts us.

It’s easy to figure out why; anger is rarely rational. Did I say “rarely”? In politics, it is never rational. Repeat after me…

“It’s only politics.”

Politics is not life. Issues are not politics. An issue can be emotional, but politics never is. Politics is how you get people into government and it is how you get them to do what we want them to do. Politics is about developing a strategy for getting the best people elected and then strategically getting them to do what is best for all people. Not you, but all people. Anger is emotional, and there is no place for emotion in politics. In fact, it’s the number one reason progressives usually lose. Some on the right are emotional, but they temper that with strategy. The far right hates the GOP almost as much as we do, if we’re being honest. However, they put their hatred aside because they know, intellectually, that the Republican Party is their only chance to get people into government who will at least listen to them and do what they want.

That’s right; even the “Fuck You Caucus” has the brains to align with a group large enough to put candidates in office who will do their bidding. Compare that to OUR version of the “FYC,” the people who rant and rave about “the establishment” and express their anger every chance they get, but who do exactly nothing to get more progressives in office. I’m sorry, but if, in a year where Hillary Clinton was up against Donald Fricking Trump, the best you could do is, “Well, I don’t like her, but she’s better than Trump,” you certified yourself as the opposite of “progressive.” You’re angry, not progressive and anger is not a rational emotion.

It’s been quite hilarious, if I’m being honest. Seriously, the consternation  and anger and upset on the part of people who spent the last two years trashing Hillary Clinton and now, suddenly they are scared shitless by the specter of a Trump presidency – it’s priceless. They think I’m angry. I’m not. I’m frustrated because I have been warning about this for a really long time now. I spent the 1980s and 1990s working inside the Democratic Party to “fix” things and was constantly frustrated by “progressives” who screwed us over. In the wake of the 2000 election debacle, I actually started another blog and talked about this a lot. Republicans don’t beat us, we beat ourselves. And we do so because, for some incredibly stupid reason, the loudest and most visible of us – the unicorn progressives and the professional left – decided that always being angry was somehow a badge of honor. They hate “the establishment.” They’re angry at “the Democrats” who don’t fulfill their vision of what a “progressive” should be. They are angry at the two-party system. For chrissakes, even now, they’re trying to blame “the Democratic Party” and demanding a fucking “overhaul,” despite the fact that Democrats did nothing wrong in this election season. And I mean, they did everything right. They allowed a challenger, they allowed the Sanders brigade to blow off steam and Hillary Clinton let the Bernie Brigade to control the platform. Unless they can explain for us how supporting every candidate up and down the line to the best of their ability is somehow destructive, you cannot rightfully blame the Democratic Party for anything.

In 2014, the professional left refused to support Democrats because they didn’t sufficiently “embrace” Obama, despite the fact that this same band of idiots spent most of the Obama Administration trashing Obama themselves. Now, two years later, Hillary Clinton kisses their asses and she fully embraced Obama, and this same angry band of morons spends two years trashing her. They even started trashing their idol, Bernie Sanders when he embraced his loss and supported Clinton. Again, what does progressive anger get us, except a Trump Administration. Good JOB!

Being angry at the outcome of the election is a completely wasted emotion. Being angry about the fact that Democrats lost a few seats is also completely wasted, as is being pissed off at Bernie Sanders because he challenged Hillary for the nomination and lost. If you think anger is such a useful emotion, then explain for the class why the progressive movement has stagnated for about 40 years now. From 1932 to about 1970, when we weren’t pissed off at Democrats, we got amazing things done. In the 40+ years since, we’ve watched the safety net disappear and we’ve had to work against the elected government to protect rights for people. If you think your expressions of anger are useful, then explain for the class why Republicans have been winning so often, even though they represent a significant minority in the electorate. The number of voters who identify as Republican has been right around 25% for about 20 years now. Given that we presumably have 75% of the electorate to work with, how can you argue that the anger many unicorn progressives and pro lefties express is helpful? It’s killing us.

If you hate the “two-party system,” then build a new party. If you hate “the establishment,” then change it. If you hate the fact that the poor are getting screwed or that people aren’t getting the healthcare they need, then do something about it. The first step is to stop being angry about the fact that the Democratic Party isn’t performing miracles as a minority party. Screaming at something because you don’t like it is completely ineffective and pointless. Anger has no place in politics, unless you’re a right winger.  By the way, that includes the constant pleas I see from many progressives that whine, “What? Are you saying we can’t criticize any Democrat?” Yes, I’m saying that. If there is nothing to be gained from it, there is no point to doing it. And if you cannot imagine not complaining about Democrats, you would seem to have a serious psychological problem, although I’m not qualified to diagnose.

Instead of constant anger, be constructive. Join the 90+% of progressives who work hard WITH the Democratic Party and stop shouting at it. We could use your help.

Don’t be angry, be effective.


Destructive Anger — 12 Comments

  1. Milt I understand what the Stop Trump is getting at. Because Bernie had no real previous ties to the Democratic Party he felt free to trash it during the primary and this damaged the Party and our eventual candidate. He ran as a Democrat but acted as an internal spoiler. I think we have to learn from this experience as Democrats. Perhaps we can not stop an Independent from running as a Democrat but the Democrats have to do better at standing behind their long standing loyal members and prevent Democrats from becoming damaged from within. I also do not think Stop Trump is “being stupid”. I understand this is your blog here but his point of view is not stupid because he writes about some things that really happened and expresses his interpretation of them. If we were in a face to face meeting together, I am not sure you would make a statement like that. I usually like your comments and agree with you 99% of the time but I feel you were harsh and dismissive of Stop Trump and this does not help unite us and can only alienate someone who took the time to write his thoughts on your blog.

    • Nothing Bernie did damaged the party. I am dismissive of this idiot because he doesn’t know what s/he’s talking about. Hillary lost because of low turnout. That’s less Bernie’s fault than the worst of his followers. As for the other parts, “the Party” has nothing to do with who runs or who wins. Voters do that. BTW, Bernie worked hard for Hillary and 90% of Bernie supporters voted for Hillary. What this commenter is trying to do is to assess blame on one person, which is pointless. Bernie wasn’t the problem because there were many problems. Like whining about Bernie. Until we learn to be positive, we’ll keep losing.

  2. I am angry, and I’m glad that I feel that anger. I’m angry at Trump and the idiocy that he represents. I’m angry at the Trump fans who are so ignorant and/or racist that they voted for the man. I’m angry at the Republicans who are coming to terms with Trump, even when Trump is against everything they say they believe. I’m angry at all of the lies about Hillary that I have heard over the past 30 years, lies that I have heard parroted by the right and the left. I hope that my anger will help me to be a more effective activist.

    Some people who are perpetually angry need to chill and should do something about that anger. And people who are angry at Democrats or angry at Obama need to turn their anger towards the Republicans, who are the REAL threat to us.. It’s not Obama, Clinton and/or the Democrats that are the threat here.

    There are others like me, perhaps too calm, too accepting, who need a good, healthy dose of anger to be stronger and effective.

    • Anger does not make you stronger or more effective. It has the opposite effect. If you doubt that, look at Trump. He’s angry as hell; how effective does he seem to you?

      • Hi Milt! I actually completely understand your comment and your article and I shared it to my page.. but I still contend that some people need a healthy dose of anger to start to move. Others need to put their anger in check. Let’s hope that most of us are taking a few deep breaths during this Christmas/Hannukah/New Years week and we will be ready to do.. something.. next year.

        • You’re just wrong. The reason liberals keep losing is because we keep relying on anger. It hasn’t worked for 50 years, so why would it suddenly start working. Obama is the most successful liberal candidate in modern history, and you have seen zero anger from him. Anger is destructive, not constructive, and our reliance on this false concept that people are motivated when they’re made has failed is so much, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would think it was a good thing. Anger is DE-motivating. If you need anger to motivate you, you need a shrink. It has the opposite effect on most people.

  3. Bernie wasn’t a Democrat. Do we allow Republicans to run in our primaries? I’m talking about closing the primaries off to actual Democrats. Prior to running, Bernie trashed the sitting President and said he deserved a primary challenge after just holding office for two years. See what Bernie said during the primaries against Hillary: much of it came from the right in calling her corrupt, which is why Trump consistently referred to Bernie after Hillary clinched the nomination and Bernie did NOTHING. He didn’t say Trump was wrong, he sat back and let Trump quote him verbatim. And let’s not forget his wife Jane and their most reliable advocate in Susan Sarandon publicly trashing Hillary and Democrats. And on cue, right after Hillary lost, Jane and the Bernie or Bust brigade were out in full force in the media saying the party would’ve won if Bernie was the nominee because corporate Democrats, yada yada yada. If Democrats are to win again, they can’t allow self serving people and a potential mole like Bernie to run again. If Bernie actually cared about the Democratic Party, why did he raise a total of ZERO dollars for down ballot, and why did he revert back to being an independent after being a Democrat for just one year? Why did he trash Hillary, which Trump quoted verbatim? Bernie ignited the flames and it was too late to put them out. Trump used Bernie to divide the Democratic Party and again, Bernie sat and did nothing to stop him. Bernie is as much a problem as his diehard supporters. Heck, even actual sitting Democrats knew he was a problem, which is why he racked up a grand total of ONE sitting Senator endorsement during the primaries. He’s not a Democrat, doesn’t care about the party, and never will. Time to cut losses with him and his far left loon base, as they helped bring down Hillary to get us President Trump and maybe a President Pence if Trump gets impeached and thrown out. Bernie has a track record of LOSING outside Vermont: much of his handpicked candidates lost (looking at you Teachout) and his Bernie or Bust loons helped elect a right wing nutbar judge in Wisconsin. Why do we need a loser like Bernie and his far left brigade destroying the party again?

    • If R publicans want to change parties and run as a Democrat, the party has nothing to say about it. It’s a free country and anyone can run. The Party has no say and can’t stop anyone from running. Read my article again. You don’t seem to get the gist of it. Anger is irrational.

      • I’m not angry at all. I’m pointing out what went wrong, and Bernie was the core of what went wrong. He trashed a sitting President, the best President of this lifetime (called for him to be primaried), and he also trashed the most qualified candidate to run for President in the primaries in calling her corrupt (which Trump quoted verbatim). If we are to win again, we can’t allow self serving far left idiots like Bernie to run. Bernie did nothing but allow far left idiots to hijack the Democratic Party and hand the Presidency to Trump. Had it been just a primary between Hillary and O’Malley, we’d probably have President elect Hillary right now as opposed to President elect Thin Skin, because O’Malley never took the low road against Hillary, Bernie did. And not only did Bernie take the low road against Hillary, Trump repeated verbatim what Bernie said, and Bernie did nothing. Getting rid of far lefties like him is what the Democratic Party has to do in order to win again. Any “Democrat” who trashes the party shouldn’t be allowed to run and is no different than a Republican, and all Bernie did was trash the party when he ran. Heck, one of his surrogates called Hillary a corporate whore and Bernie was silent on that, he is as much of the problem as are his die hard supporters. What makes Bernie trashing Obama (a successful sitting President) and Hillary different than Trump or the GOP trashing Obama and Hillary? Answer: nothing. I gave Bernie a chance, and he and his movement destroyed the Democratic Party, as was the case back in the day with McGovern and Kennedy and the movements that backed them. Something’s gotta give, and it’s about time those of us who are dedicated Democrats to say no to independents like Bernie and his bots who do nothing but trash Democrats. Until they are booted out and no longer allowed a voice, Republicans will run the government for the foreseeable future.

        • You are angry and you don’t have the slightest idea how anything in our system works. If you think focusing on Bernie fixes a thing, you’re dumb as a post. Please explain to us all how whining about the past fixes anything at all. This will be your last comment unless you make more sense.

  4. Bernie shouldn’t have been allowed to run, that was the Democratic Party’s first mistake. He did nothing during the primaries except say “Hillary is corrupt and untrustworthy,” which Trump later quoted and Bernie did nothing to refute. This is also why Republicans supperted Bernie during the primaries to ding Hillary up, as Bernie parroted Right wing talking points about her and Democrats. Bernie gave the Democratic Party the ultimate fuck you in going back to being an Independent. He supposedly ran as a Dem to keep from Nadering the race, but did so anyways. We need to purge the party of people like Bernie who don’t give a damn and focus on turning out the dedicated life Democrats who will stand with the party. Bernie and the far left like him haven’t won squat outside lily white Vermont, and should be ignored.

    • Not allowed to run? How does that work, exactly? Should they tackle him and tie him up in the back room? You have no idea what you’re talking about. Parties don’t choose who runs, those run do. And people vote. Stop being stupid.