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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.

Watch:

And for some reason I can't get the video to embed, so here's the link.

"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  Yes, the policy is repealed, but there is still a ways to go to get to "full equality".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.

Originally posted to zenbassoon on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 07:39 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Was Hael and Happy Festivus! (3+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 07:40:53 AM PST

  •  Well said. (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you.

    Fight and fail, fight and fail.  Then we win.

    That's reality.

    "As God is my witness, I thought wingnuts could fly."

    by Niniane on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 07:52:49 AM PST

  •  I love this diary. (5+ / 0-)

    Happy holidays to you zenbassoon and thank you.

    (Sadly, in Kathmandu no longer.)

    by American in Kathmandu on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 07:56:16 AM PST

  •  yes, the President had a good day... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zenbassoon

    and the fact of the matter is, once employment returns, there will be little impetus to do anything important.

    That's the formula: as long as people are working and able to eke out some kind of living, they'll swallow just about anything: invasive searches into their private lives, suppression of free speech, arbitrary arrests, and more. Not just here - the Soviets knew it, the Chinese know it and the Japanese were seemingly born with this knowledge.

    There's wiggle room, but on the whole, it's as close to a hard and fast political truism as you can get.

    22 December 2010: President Obama and Democrats have a good day.

    by papicek on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 07:58:31 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this (6+ / 0-)

    I had an interesting exchange with a fellow Kossack on this a few weeks back, in which I was mourning the dearth of civility on the Orange. The Kossacks opened my mind to a new concept; some people simply don't see the value of civility. Or rather, they don't see any harm in the lack thereof.

    Prior to that, I'd always thought the extremely uncivil where like alcoholics; knowing you shouldn't but unable to resist.

    There apparently are a lot of folks that see no intrinsic harm in harsh ad hominem attacks, destructive language or hyperbole at all.

    I'm in your camp, though.

    "Take the victory and keep on marching"

    by SeattleProgressive on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 08:02:33 AM PST

  •  The cheering feels good too, right? (4+ / 0-)

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 08:31:23 AM PST

    •  That it does. But it doesn't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Agathena

      and shouldn't lead to gloating or other "reptilian" discourse.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

      by zenbassoon on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 08:33:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cheering for good reason feels good, yes (4+ / 0-)

      I believe your implication is that there aren't any good reasons to cheer, and we're simply doing it in a "fake it until you can make it" kinda way, and that's just not an accurate portrayal of what's gone on.

      We've seen some limited wins.

      We aren't ignorant of the costs we paid to get some of those wins.

      But we aren't like those like you who fail to acknowledge any good that came from the compromise.

      And we aren't like those like you who unfairly and inaccurately depict us as ignoring the bad - we know that there were some things in bills in the last few days that we wish hadn't happened!

      •  The subject, is hyperbole (5+ / 0-)

        there have been 2 diaries calling for less hyperbole from critics of the President. I don't approve of  name calling and over the top condemnations, so I don't feel that they are directed at me.

        But there haven't been any diaries exhorting those protecting the president to cut their hyperbole have there?

        And not just in their exultant praise but also their hyperbole against the critics. Terms like - hate, bashing, racism - these are hyperbolic in most cases, no?

        back to the issues...

        This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

        by Agathena on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 09:00:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, most of our criticism is spot on, actually (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zenbassoon, SouthernBelleNC49

          Those of us who want a rational portrait of Obama to be discussed aren't using hyperbole when we note that those who want to trash Obama aren't being realistic or fair in their depiction of Obama!

          It's your side that's over-using hyperbole. It's your side that's not discussing issues with full honesty. On repeated diaries I've provided links documenting that behavior.

          There have been diaries that have misportrayed those of us who aren't "protecting the president", but are in fact "protecting" the truth, "protecting" reality! There have been unfounded accusations against most of us, it's true. The fact that the accusations exist isn't evidence that the accusations are accurate, you know.

          Or maybe you don't know. It seems like those of you on that side of this argument don't actually understand what's going on at this site. You don't recognize that one side isn't blinding supporting Obama. You can't seem to see that those who attack Obama are the unfairly biased people. We had a recommended diary just the other day when the diarist refused to praise Obama, saying that praising the White House was equivalent and shouldn't be taken as an effort to avoid praising Obama. When later challenged on that stance, eventually the diarist inadvertently admitted that he truly was avoiding praising Obama, and that's why he used "White House" instead of Obama.

          •  "trash" = hyperbole (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Uberbah, revelwoodie, zenbassoon

            You prove my point.

            When I say I think the President should not have given into Republican demands to increase the US nuclear arsenal in order to get them to sign the START treaty, am I "trashing" the President. No, I am expressing a critique based on evidence.

            This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

            by Agathena on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:36:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, trash is not "hyperbole" here (0+ / 0-)

              You just aren't being honest.

              And that's typical of the posts I've seen you make. No surprise there.

              There are valid criticisms of the President expressed here.

              And I was never asserting that valid criticism was equivalent to trashing - that's YOUR strawman argument.

              And I understand you'd prefer to get away with simply making strawman arguments without being challenged - too bad, so sad.

              •  Stick to the subject (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Uberbah, zenbassoon

                and leave out the verbal attacks:

                You wrote:

                You just aren't being honest.

                And that's typical of the posts I've seen you make. No surprise there.

                Calling your opponent a liar is rude and unparliamentary.

                Further conversation with you is pointless.

                Goodbye - happy holidays.

                This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

                by Agathena on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 01:40:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Parts of this reminded me of.. (3+ / 0-)

    my favorite quote by I. F. Stone:

    "The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins.

    In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing—for the sheer fun and joy of it—to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it."

    Fight and fail. Fight and fail. Then we win.

    Not everyone has the nerve or the um... I don't know, for that. People in desperate situations, for one, may not be able to see past the next sunrise, and that is quite understandable. But, like you and the man say, someone's gotta see that the fight itself is worth it, for tomorrow - even if you know you're going to lose today.

    On the other front, I really like this diary. I used to chat in a couple of political chatrooms a lot, years ago, and never had so much fun as when I was peeling the skin off a right winger (or, rather off their arguments - really!) I don't use invective as a general rule, just a sort of relentless logic, but I realized that what I was doing was not persuading anyone, just boxing people in and infuriating them. Good fun, sometimes, but not productive in moving the liberal point of view/policies forward for the future.

    To do that you have to sometimes forgo the little digs, ignore a few unimportant things and work on detailing why your ideas are best, and not why their ideas are the worst. That works for allies and political opposites alike.

    Most times. Other times there's nothing left to do but poke them with a sharp stick.

    A new world is not only possible, she is on her way. -A. Roy
    Serenity...an expedition

    by Nanette K on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 08:50:02 AM PST

  •  We are the movement that cried wolf (3+ / 0-)

    Most of us came of age hearing about the protests of the 60's.  We got our own political baptism via marches, rallies, etc.  Protest is all we know.  It is what we do.

    But it has becme banal.

    Protests worked in the 60's because Americans were shocked to see civil rights marchers attacked, and inspired by the numbers and passion of those marching. It was purposeful.  Now we protest everything.  and we don't even have to show up...we can register our protest to the wind online for all to see.  And as you say, it feels so good. But it is expected of us now.  We are defined by it.  and our reps do not heed us anymore because they wisely understand that there is no pleasing us.  Not for very long anyhow.

    This community needs a real discussion on change - and what works to achieve it, and what does not.

    I wonder if we'll ever drop the outrage long enough to focus on that conversation.

    Complaining on the internet is not dissent.

    by snout on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 08:59:59 AM PST

  •  This is simply not the case (6+ / 0-)

    in all circumstances, and I'm taken back by the fact that you don't seem to see that.

    But with each failure we will have moved a bit further to our goal.

    If we were gaining more than we were losing on some of the BIG issues, there would be much less criticism, IMHO, and perhaps very little criticism at all.

    The argument you're making is the same old incrementalism arguemnt.

    On the tax deal, for example, it was a huge loss.  That wasn't a fight and fail and fight and fail and you're still making progress, situation.  It was a situation where we gave away the store for crumbs in return and worse, we advanced the ball down the field for the Republicans who want to impose austerity measures and undermine the New Deal.

    I have other examples, but this one is the most recent and probably the most egregious.

    We are in a classic, "throw them a few bones" situation right now.  I'm shocked that more can't see it.  Well, a lot of people do.  But I guess I'm shocked that everyone at this site can't see it.

    •  It's the argument Professor Harris-Perry is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SouthernBelleNC49, DollyMadison

      also making.  She used civil rights as an example.  Her article in The Nation about Booker T Washington and the President shows this.  

      And it also applies to the tax deal as well.

      We fought.  We failed.  But the debate is moving.  More people are aware of the unemployment issue, especially with the 99ers.

      And yes, it's incrimentalist.  But as Professor Perry says, this country moves SO SLOWLY.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

      by zenbassoon on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 09:41:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As much as I respect her (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW, zenbassoon

        and agree with her very often, she's got it all wrong on the tax deal, IMHO.  Undermining the New Deal is so devastating that really there are no mitigating sweeteners that could justify it, and no benefits of advancing the debate that could make up for the human suffering that it set in motion.

        People really need to wake up on this. By the time you've woken up enough to decide to complain about it, it will be too late.  If there was ever a BFD, this is it.

      •  We're moving incrementally further Right. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joanneleon, zenbassoon

        Granted, some people think that's a good thing, but it is what's happening.

        You never know who someone is until you're at their mercy.

        by JesseCW on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:49:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  We have had sand thrown in our eyes (6+ / 0-)

      It's hard to see clearly with all that spin going on. At least some of us will be prepared when there are government attacks on the social safety nets, the environment and peace in the coming year. All the big issues that effect the entire population are in jeopardy.

      This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

      by Agathena on Thu Dec 23, 2010 at 10:15:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When the Obama administration attacks start ..... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Agathena, Cassiodorus, PhilJD

        ....... in earnest, the "spin club" will be spinning harder.  

        Forget comparing Obama to Gandhi or Martin Luther King or even Jesus Christ.  

        I say cut out the middle man and go right for God.  ;)

        Proud member of The Rogues Gallery

        by ThAnswr on Fri Dec 24, 2010 at 07:46:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good one ThAnswr (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ThAnswr, zenbassoon

          The pope comes between MLK and JC and the word "infallibility" comes to mind.

          As an atheist, I won't go up the ladder any higher than the pope.

          This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

          by Agathena on Fri Dec 24, 2010 at 11:59:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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