Thursday, May 11, 2006

Barbaric Yawp


Most successful political movements need passion. Anger, when constructively directed, is a potent and inspiring passion. It is noble to be angry about dangerous situations and corrupt leaders, and there are few passions which can compete with anger for inspiring oneself and others to meaningful action.

Conversely, those who are entirely devoid of anger are often lifeless, limp, uninspiring figures who seem to be drained of soul and purpose. An anger-less political movement is embodied by a plodding, bespecled, muttering Jay Rockefeller. Or John Kerry's non-response to the Swift Boat attacks. Or the Democrats' often ponderous, half-hearted, overly-rational mutterings on all too many issues or in response to all too many corruption and lawbreaking scandals. Or craven, eager-to-please "liberals" who are more interested in convincing Fox News and other Bush followers how balanced and reasonable they are than they are than in fighting for any actual political ideals -- like Joe Klein, or Richard Cohen, for example.

Democrats need to get away -- as far away and as quickly as possible -- from that bland, mushy, sonorous, overly calculating and painfully restrained, passion-free dead zone. And in that regard, a much bigger problem for Democrats has been a lack of anger -- and most other human passions -- not an excess of it.
My only, even partial disagreement is that I really don't give a crap if it is the capital D democrats who do anything.

One could get all wonky about Medicare Part D (and many have) or about clearly unconstitutional, secretive expansions of authority (and many, many, many have) or about rampant corruption, cronyism and unvarnished spitefullness (and many have). In a word, a kakistocracy:
kakistocracy (kak·is·toc·ra·cy) n.
Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.
But I don't think that one needs to get into fine detail, the people know enough, at least as to broad strokes. Given all this, surely I'm not the only one to feel that it's well past time for someone with some gravitas to stand up, pull a half-Howard Beale, point to the Shermanesque scorched earth left behind by these past six years and simply say "This is bullshit!"

So, to turn the rather tiresome lecture about the evils of anger on its head, why aren't you?


Ahistoricality said...

I think we need to dig out a thesaurus and remind people (yes, including C.) that "anger" is a symptom, a common reaction to many highly objectionable stimuli: threats, injustices, hypocricies, disappointments, etc.

I disagree that "anger" is in itself a useful emotion for driving a political movement, but I think it's going to be a component of one which identifies real critical issues and makes them prominent.

Not all strong emotions are irrational ones, either in cause or effect.

monak said...

I also disagree with C about losing the anger; positive changes have been fueled by anger. I think the key to a positive political movement comes from realizing the root of one's own reaction of anger and finding a solution to make it right. Of course the tricky part is that anger is bred into the make-up of people, and the definition of "anger" and when it is irrational differs from person to person. The best political movement can come from someone who will control anger and turn it into positive energy that makes people believe and ask meaningful questions in a non-threatening way- whatever that may be.