Drinking heavily on election night has become one of my personal traditions. That means, no matter what happens, I’m hungover the next day. It just seems… appropriate.
So, I brainstorm a path to a more positive future, because otherwise the only thing in my head is my burning desire to take a cheese-grater to Boehner’s smug face.
There’s a problem with my anger, other than just the fact that I get all trembly and weepy and can’t really function when I’m angry. The problem is: anger sells the right, it doesn’t sell the left.
I don’t think that was always true — I think in the past there were a lot of progressive victories that came about because of anger, things like the labor movement. But right now, there seems to be a strong correlation: angry, frightened people vote for Republicans, optimistic and good-humored people vote for Democrats.
In 2004, Bush made people feel afraid, and they voted for him. In 2008, Obama made people feel cheerful, and they voted for him.
Some people are just fundamentally angry all the time, so they will always vote for Republicans. But everyone else, I think they are more likely to vote R if you make them feel angry and afraid. And that’s something that Republicans are always ready to do.
It’s a brilliant strategy — create the problem, then offer yourself as the solution to the problem. Kind of a political perpetual-motion machine.
Which means it should run down… eventually.
But we can’t wait for that to happen. We have to fight back now. But how should we fight?
You might think we can fight fear and anger with our own fear and anger. They say fear Muslims? We say fear Republicans taking away your social security! They’re angry about immigrants? We’re angry about income inequality!
It should work, right? Because our cause is just? And because we have really good reasons to be upset, while they’re just a bunch of bigoted crybabies?
Except it doesn’t work.
There is considerable evidence that last night’s election results were about people reacting to their own anger by lashing out (anti-incumbent voting), and to their depression with apathy (not voting at all). Anger didn’t lead to sensible voting. People still hate Republicans, according to the poll data, but voted for them anyway. How messed up is that?
It’s ridiculous, I know, but I think, just maybe, we have to cheer people up first and then they’ll vote for the Democrats who will make nicer things happen and give people more actual substantive reasons to be cheerful.
So, what we really need, if we are going to 1. Personally survive the next two years, and 2. Win big in 2012, is a political movement based around the concept of cheering people up. Or a non-political movement, really. It doesn’t have to be overtly political, it just has to cheer people up.
Today’s cheery thought: there is always another election around the corner.