Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...


Wednesday, November 12, 2003  

Following up on that filibuster post, I just read Kristof, who touches on a similar point. But although I find his thoughts to be among the most careful and insightful--and least reactionary--being written, I think he's off the mark today. It's a kitchen-sink post that conflates a couple of very key issues. His main point is that anger is bad for the Democrats--they need to have a positive message to give to the public. This is a good point, and one I've made before--anger alone isn't a platform.

The left should have learned from Newt Gingrich that rage impedes understanding — and turns off voters. That's why President Bush was careful in 2000, unlike many in his party, to project amiability and optimism.

But what Kristof fails to distinguish is that authentic anger is a very different thing than mock outrage. Newt Gingrich was swept into office precisely because of his anger. His mistake wasn't in getting angry, it was in not cooling off and moving to the people's business.

America's temper is slowly rising. Republicans have the Presidency and both houses of Congress and yet still push the most violent form of partisan politics. Democratic anger isn't some kind of fetishwear, like the flight suit the President donned, to woo voters--it's the real thing. America's being hijacked, and Democrats are finally doing something about it. What people seem to miss is that the Democrats for the first time do have a plan, and it's starting to look mighty cohesive. Part of the reason the Democratic Presidential race has bored Americans is because there aren't huge policy differences. They don't disagree dramatically on the economy, social services, or the war, so are left to squabble about style or details.

Anger is sometimes good. If the colonists hadn't gotten mad enough to dump tea into the Boston Harbor, who knows what might have happened. You just have to have more than anger. You just have to have a plan to channel the anger into change.

(As to Kristof's other sidebar about religion, that's an issue too, but it was odd he threw it into this article.)

posted by Jeff | 9:01 AM |
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