I am afraid Democrats are behaving like far-right-wing Republicans. My email box and my Facebook feed are flooded with outrage and exhortations to Democrats to fight Republicans at every turn, just like the Republicans fought and obstructed and otherwise did all they could to upend the good work of President Obama. I understand rage. I understand anger at obstructionist pigs whose motives and tactics are driven purely by politics and oblivious to reality. But I am angry at my Democratic compatriots for becoming the monsters they so demonized. I still believe the majority of Americans will, if given the chance, respond to reason and well-founded and properly articulated policy positions based on humanitarian ideals. But unless Democrats lower their (and my) blood pressure, the current state of affairs will just grow worse. Republicans and many independents will look at Democrats as the obverse side of the ugly Republican coin. Rather than scream and harp at how horrible the Republican actions are, I think a more reasoned approach is in order. Clearly articulate (and footnote) the errors, lies, and omissions of Republican policies and policy arguments. But don’t shout; just provide evidence. Over and over and over and over again. Eventually, the more intellectually inclined opponents will realize they have been mislead by orange lies and Republican distortions.

Just as important (or, in my opinion, more so) as the counters to Republican administration lies is the clear enunciation of progressive positions. And here’s where it gets dicey; how we PAY for our positions. Not with Republican-style BS, but with reasoned and deeply considered facts. And if we don’t seem to have a means of paying for a position, then let’s openly admit it and have a debate as to whether it merits implementation even in the face of a lack of obvious funding. And let’s stop focusing exclusively on the middle class; one’s mere positioning in the middle class puts him or her far ahead of the poor. Let’s talk about how we’re going to lift the poor out of poverty, not simply how we’re going to feed and clothe them during the experience. Let’s talk about how to give people skills they need to pull themselves up out of poverty. And let’s acknowledge that there really are some people (albeit, in my view, a tiny fraction of recipients of welfare) who game the system; and let’s figure out a way to catch and remove them from the system without punishing the decent people who are trying and simply need a hand.

I am not softening on the so-called president or his supporters. I have no delusions about changing 45’s positions; you can’t cure incurable mental illness that has progressed as far as his has gone. But reasonable people who respond to 45 because they hurt and don’t feel Obama helped them (though I cannot for the life of me understand that attitude, given what he inherited and what he left us, but that’s another story), deserve to be given an opportunity to learn. And to ventilate. And we, too, deserve to ventilate. But at some point, we have to grow up and realize our ongoing expressions of rage are simply going to energize the worst of the opposition.

I am liberal, progressive, left-leaning. But I pride myself on avoiding the embodiment of those labels to the point of insanity. Moderation, compromise, and regular articulation of positions will get us, and the world, a lot more bang for the buck than will 45-like tantrums.

Do I change my position regularly, switching between reasoned moderate and maniacal left-winger? Yes. But I always come around to one or the other position again, when the time is right.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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