So, I'm watching Rachel again, during one of the live shows. Her guest for this segment was Melissa Harris-Perry. The subject was about DADT and civil rights issues in general, but her theme makes so much sense that it applies across the board to what this President has done, is doing, and will do in the future.
"We have to keep fighting and failing, fighting and failing".
"You yell at the President, but then, when it's time, you say 'Thank you, Mr. President'".
And that's what we do. As Professor Harris-Perry pointed out, this repeal is what she called a "limited win". Yes, the policy is repealed, but there is still a ways to go to get to "full equality".
And so it goes for governing. Which is why I am cheered by several prominent diarists who, while often harsh critics of the President's policies, also stop and very loudly and exuberantly praise the President when an accomplishment is made.
As it should be.
I love getting in the weeds and having discussions about how a particular part of a particular policy works, and what its effects would be and to what extent. I love that we can unite and actually force national debate on issues.
What I don't love is when it gets personal. I suppose it stems from the past eight years. Or perhaps during the eight years before that. Whenever it started, it seems like you can't do any criticism without personal attacks anymore. And no one is immune. I mean, during the past eight years, many of our attacks on Former President Bush, even though the substance may have been true, the language used was so personal and hyperbolic that it may have diminished the criticism and prevented many people from being persuaded.
But it feels good when we do it.
I mean today, for example, while watching the START debate, I tweeted that Senator Sessions was an "ass tool". The description may have been apt, but that language probably would not have persuaded someone "on the fence" to see my point of view.
But it felt SO good to say it.
And I understand the feeling. It's visceral, a remnant of our reptilian brains.
But in the end, it diminishes the message when we use words and phrases like "betrayer-in-chief" "he must be stopped" "groveler in chief" "utter failure of a Presidency".
How are people supposed to take us seriously and be persuaded by us if this is what we sound like?
Remember, it was the ACTIONS of Bush that turned people away from him. It was people like us EXPLAINING what he was doing, and not our attacks that persuaded people to turn away from him.
But it felt so good to make fun of him.
And it feels good to vent like that. We get a sense of satisfaction out of it. It has become the norm for "political discourse", thanks to people like Rush Limbaugh, and organizations like Fox News, who are now in the mainstream of all thinking.
And increasingly it seems that people aren't heard unless they make some kind of hyperbolic scene and go over the top. This is what Rupert Murdoch has wrought in this country.
And when people drag out that old saw "disagree without being disagreeable" they themselves get derided for "capitulation" and "weakness".
And it feels good.
But we have to force the change. We have to persuade, not with invective, but with feeling. With heart. With love. We indeed have to "disagree without being disagreeable". We must evolve PAST our reptilian brains and get into our hominid brains. Because if we devolve and become a reptilian brain society, we get "Lord of the Flies" and "Idiocracy". Which is what they want.
But it feels so good when we use our reptilian brains.
And this is indeed part of the "change" the President has talked about. We have become so inured and used to the name calling and over the top rhetoric that we are walling ourselves off from reasonable debate. And it's that debate, calmly and respectfully given, that will persuade more and more people.
But there will be failures along the way. But with each failure we will have moved a bit further to our goal. We will have persuaded a few more people. And we will win.
Fight and fail, fight and fail. Then we win.
And that feels good too.