I AM DEMORALIZED
As a Progressive Democrat I am demoralized. Not so demoralized that I won’t vote, but still, pretty demoralized. It’s been about a nine month process, but I want to abort this lack of enthusiasm before it gives birth to depression. Watching Rachel Maddow stories night after night about “C” Street, prayers against health care, Republican obstructionism, about the Glenn Beck’s and Joe the Plumbers –all of those are infuriating, but they are not demoralizing. I mean, sure, I get saddened by the state of our country, but it does not demoralize me.
First of all, being demoralized is not the same as being depressed. Here is the classic definition of “Demoralize”
1. to deprive (a person or persons) of spirit, courage, discipline….2. to throw (a person) into disorder or confusion.
So, just so we’re on the same page, this is a situational condition, not a chemical imbalance, nor an ongoing state. Actually, from what I have read, it is more like grief. This is how psychiatry thinks about the state of being demoralized:
A demoralized person is sad, apprehensive, or irritable; thinking is pessimistic ; behavior can be passive, demanding, or uncooperative. Although these phenomena are distressing to the demoralized person and others, they do not constitute a psychiatric disorder. Like grief, which has some of the same manifestations, demoralization is a normal response in certain circumstances.
The only way I know to combat low morale is to go way back to the skills I had in my management days, when I was an avid reader of the motivational gurus of the 80’s. And I found that demoralization is caused by the same reasons whether it’s because of a bad boss or because the Democrats are flailing. After all, leadership is leadership, be it in a company or a country.
A loss of confidence in leadership follows when people believe that those in charge either don’t really know what they’re doing, don’t care about their constituents (or employees) or are fundamentally dishonest.
But leadership factors do not account for all of the causes of low morale. Neither does overwork–Exhaustion, yes. Low morale? No. However, when people are working very hard over an extended period of time and feel no hope for reward or a break, then morale suffers. Those of us who worked our asses off to get Obama and other candidates elected feel this. And we are still working, following legislation, writing our representatives and becoming worn out.
Aside from poor leadership, another factor is negativity. Rumor, negativity, gossip, and quiet character assassination kill organizations, kill productivity, kill morale and crush the spirit. We see this all the time at Huffpo. That is the biggest reason I no longer post there regularly. Criticism is good and necessary, but indirect rumor mongering invites – no, it breeds – distortion and untruth, and actually has a chemical effect on the brain that inhibits happiness and human growth.
So far, I have only been talking about those of us who are politically engaged, but many more are probably the least politically active It is not just the base that is demoralized big time. Most voters usually focus their ire on the nebulous “Democrats.” The more active we are, the more likely we are to realize that most Democrats are on the side of the people. It’s the folks least interested in the details who are likely to say, “No matter who I vote for, my life doesn’t get any better, so why bother? There is no difference between the Parties! ”
WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS
I think it is important for Progressives (even those who vehemently disagree with those who sit out elections) to sympathize with the point of view of those voters. We’re not going to be able to come up with good suggestions on keeping them in the fold if we’re too angry at them to understand their point of view. After all, the actual act of voting is not really all that easy, what with the lines, the weather, whatnot.
A lot of people in America are hurting– the slide downhill of their fortunes has been going on so long that they’re feeling bereft and hopeless. It’s easy for those of us who are activists to admonish people for seeing Obama as anything but a centrist Democrat, but he really did present himself on the campaign trail as a new FDR. It’s unfair that he’s getting dinged for what Joe Lieberman and other Senators are technically doing, but that’s just the way it goes when we’re talking about inevitable low information voters. It is their PERCEPTION that matters.
The long list of Obama’s achievements was really helpful to me. However, the list of Obama achievements is not likely to change many people’s perceptions. The stimulus was critical but insufficient. Financial regulation reform is something of a joke compared to the perception that the banks own the Obama administration. The draw-down of Iraq troops is going to be overshadowed by Afghanistan. And most of all is the sense of ongoing unfairness we all feel about the rewards given to the cheaters and torturers of the Bush guys.
In a recent poll, 80 percent of Republicans are definitely or probably going to vote. For Democrats, it was just 55 percent. Those aren’t bloggers or political junkies, its rank and file Democrats, and they’re seeing no reason to turn out and vote. Democrats pissed away their mandate with a series of corporate bailouts, but nothing for the average person. The signature Democratic policy item — health care — has been hijacked by Lieberman, Lincoln, Baucus, Snowe, and Ben Nelson, to the detriment of pretty much everyone else, all with the full support of a “bipartisan” obsessed White House.
I’m going to vote, and you guys are too. We’re not the problem. The problem is the marginally engaged Democrats, and without them we’re going to get creamed next year.
Before we can motivate others to vote, we need to re-motivate ourselves. Back to my management gurus. I got the following from an ACLU training workshop manual. (I am not an ACLU worker, but they had good employee/volunteer training.)
“Burnout is very common among activists – both paid and voluntary workers. Stressed people are not effective and can often create conflict and contribute to low morale. They also often act in ways which make it unattractive for new members to join the organization. Cynicism, negativity and rigid thinking are side effects of chronic stress. Taking care of the part of the environment over which we have the most control – that is, ourselves, is a vital part of effective activism.”
Some concrete practices:
- Create a group culture / ethos that supports self-care, balance and sustainable work loads and patterns. (Which we do here, at PlanetPOV.)
- Take a long-term perspective of planning and working for the long haul, to keep experienced / skilled group members for as long as possible
- Balance task focus with process and relationship / maintenance focus – in meetings, in daily work, in planning, and in evaluation
- Allow people to express feelings of distress, grief and loss and frustration – regard them as normal and healthy responses to unhealthy situations and state of the world.
- Put value on socialising, fun, humour, relaxation time as a group. (Which we do here, at PlanetPOV!)
Finally, to combat my sense of demoralization, I need to stay engaged, but I need to dial back my expectations. I need to “Set challenging but achievable goals and expectations with specific metrics and rally your team to meet them.” The “team” is we Progressives–and myself. Thank you, my friends, for helping to keep up my morale!
Thanks, Cher, for your article. I have been suffering from a little demoralization myself. Ever since the summer, this has been a real roller-coaster ride. My feelings would go from “on top of the world” to “lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut”, depending on the news of the day.
The republicans have managed to strip this bill down so badly that many of us don’t want it to pass. One item that struck me was the part about the “pre-existing conditions”. It’s true that the insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage for diabetes, cancer, hypertension and other chronic diseases. But here is the clincher…the insurance companies will be able to charge much, much more to those who have them. I would guess this was one of those little “compromises” to continue to shift costs to the consumer and away from the insurance companies.
I have heard all the arguments about how this is a great “first step” and how this can lead to further progress on reform, but I have to wonder if the republicans will find a way to rescind what progress has been made. You know that they will do just that if given the return of control of the Senate in the next elections.
There is a blogger, Matt Osborne, over at HP who has posted his challenge to all progressives to march on Washington. We had a rousing conversation last night about it. I have promised to do whatever I can to help organize. I plan to write about it here later today. I would encourage everyone to read his article which is also posted on his website: http://www.osborneink.com
Matt is quite fired up and wants the rest of us to remain so. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing what few gains we have made.
I think our expectations were too high, given how these lawyers are bought and paid for by the corporate lobbyists.
Next time, I won’t make that mistake, even with Barack Obama. I’ve stopped watching the cable “news” shows, don’t even watch KO anymore. The hysteria they all engender leads to this morale problem you speak of, Cher. We’ve talked about this.
But, in our conversations on healthcare, I never dreamed it would turn out this badly. This goes way beyond excluding the public option, which as you know I was never fond of, but this mandate is stunning in its rigidity, threatening to make criminals out of so many.
Absolutely too high– from the start.
But remember how this all played out? The PO was declared DOA, but then, we got one from Baucus Committee, of all places! And one from the House, and then it seemed inevitable. Then, the PO was dead, but there was Medicare expansion– so I for one, was mollified. Then– rather, now, no PO, but the mandate stayed. So although we wanted too much, we weren’t crazy for thinking it possible, when on three occasions, we had a PO! Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory…
Lieberman is the one who turned victory into defeat — and for him, this is a victory. We didn’t have 60 votes, that’s the problem. This isn’t a dem failing. This is a failing of our basic government structure — where one person can deny the entire country a popular piece of legislation. He’s not even representing his own state.
What I hope is that this messed up process will give people some incentive to change the way the senate works.
Yes, Nellie– thanks for clarifying that. And Nelson too, and it could have been any Conservadem. It IS a failure of structure, and I really get that– there was no way we could have gotten votes for a robust PO let alone single payer. But you know what else? The lobby money has also been really exposed for how it perverts Democracy.
And here’s a true bright spot: I have never seen it mentioned as offhandedly and as often as recently. Did you notice on that Howard Dean video posted by Scher(?), how he mentioned that? Almost as if everyone knew that the Senators were bribed. And I’ve heard those sentiments repeatedly. That tells me the time is ripening for campaign and lobby reform.
Yes indeed. Something to move to the top of the progressive agenda. 🙂
Demoralized? What? The Presidents’ term is not even 1/4 there. The 111th session of congress not 1/2 over. I still remember a few things of Reagan,Bush, and the last eight years of Shrub are still quite fresh in my small brain.
Is this the bill I would have liked? NO! Is this a step forward? YES.
There are many living in poverty that have lost jobs, homes, cars, spouses…. because of medical reasons. Walk in their shoes for a week, month or years knowing you cannot ever buy insurance again.
“….and the work continues”
I invite you to read this article:
From the article:
“The liberals attacking the Senate health reform bill must never have known real illness. They
Bito, did you read my entire post? If so, I guess I did a pretty poor job of conveying my points, or you and I are just different people, and I have found the health care reform process demoralizing. But that’s OK!
Yes, I read your whole post! Did progressives believe that this was going to be a cakewalk in the first 10 months after HC reform being first proposed in 1912? Do progressives think that they are now in the majority in the country? What will pass this Senate?
Is this a foot in the door for further reform? Does this offer many a chance to obtain health care?
What can I say? I just believe that we have to see the side of those who feel demoralized, and, instead of just disagreeing, and saying they are being unreasonable (which I think they are being in many cases), we need to deal with them. They won’t vote unless we can reach them.
Cher, See the side of those demoralized? What about giving those without any decent HC hope that they may be able to go to a Doctor? I will ask again: some one give me 5-8-10 major points for HC reform that will pass this Congress.
Can’t– this Congress can barely wipe its ass. You are preaching to the choir on that one. But I ask you, are you happy with this bill? If you are, I won’t argue. If you are not, that’s understandable too, isn’t it?
But my main point is this: Use your reasoning on those who are probably not going to vote. I’m going to vote, and so is everyone else on this site. We are not who I want to deal with. It does no good to write off half the registered Dems and basically say, “Nuts to you, ya dreamers.” We need them, don’t we?
Cher, Do I like this bill? Kennedy didn’t like the Nixon bill and he regretted opposing and killing it. Is this a foot in the door? Is this the first time ANY regulation has been put on the HC insurance? “If not now? When?”
Cher, I agree. But what do you say to someone who declares, “I’m not going to vote”? To me, it’s the same as talking to someone who’s going to vote for Nader, no matter what.
I have no idea what language to use, what arguments to make, what to express.
There are some who are lost. But look what Bito said. That’s a valid argument.
Here’s my personal story: I was almost one of those who for a brief time thought I’d give up on the Dems. Over time, a poster at Huffpo, HumeSkeptic, was always the voice of reason. He’d say things like most of us here– Where are the votes? What is the alternative– all the arguments we make here. Not just about HCR but the bailout especially. But over a period of about a week, I came to my senses. Maybe I just needed the space to vent, to express my frustration. Anyway, I soon realized how ridiculous I was being. I saw the world as it is without being cynical. It made me understand that I had to continue to WORK for change. Other posters helped with that meme too. Most people can come around, and they have to. When all else fails, I like to mention President Palin. ;~)
I have had those conversations,
I have asked People things like…
Do you pick out your own clothes?
Would you let a strangers that know nothing about you pick out your clothes and decide on size,
color and how much you can or can’t afford?
Do you go into a restaurant and let strangers decide on what you can order and at what price?
This can go on and on, cars, homes,
Then I ask…
How can you let someone else vote for you?
Well, it has worked a few times.
Also, Nellie, i think it is important to look at the objections individually. Some just can’t be answered– like mine about going in the wrong direction– but most objections are about the fact that this bill is too weak and that can always be countered by the “first step” argument and how we need to keep Dems in control to build on the bill. Several blogs linked to by yourself and Scher do that rather well.
I think the most important thing is to keep people engaged and– as I have no doubt about you– to remain respectful. I can’t tell you how many times at Huff people would thank me for that, and from there dialogue grew. Honestly, that’s something that I see comes naturally to you, but not for very many there.
nellie, “I have no idea what language to use, what arguments to make, what to express.”
You must never had the pleasure to worked the dreaded phone bank. 😆
If you want a challenge — try to get Native Americans to vote. I have knocked my head against that wall more often than I care to think about!
And I STILL don’t have the language to persuade someone who’s mind is made up that their vote doesn’t matter.
bito, I love Bill Boyarksy. He was one of the voices that kept me sane during the Bush Administration. He’s an insider who cares about people, knows how to work the system, and speaks his mind — a rare commodity in politics.
Thanks for the link. I wouldn’t have seen this.
I too feel a bit demoralized but as a member of Demoralized Anonymous, I know that the next step is Acceptance.
I do remain frustrated with those Dems who are addicted to total gratification and go off on Obama when they’re going through withdrawals. As they teach in D.A., the first step is admitting you have a problem.
If such Dems were to consider what things were like during 8 years of Bush or what things would be like today under McCain/Palin, perhaps they wouldn’t be jonesing so badly for full gratification.
Though I am a recovering Demoralized Dem, I remain unhappy that the Dems and Pres. Obama were not better prepared strategically to win this big time. There are those that say, “What an accomplishment to get any kind of HC bill signed!” I am not as impressed with this because the 2008 election was all about this, the public came out powerfully to say, “It’s time for HC Reform now!”.
I instead find this as under-delivering in an environment when the public, at least those who use teabags to make tea, have been and continue to be hugely behind insurance and financial reforms.
So, though demoralization is a social disease, it can be cured by a shot in the arm of open discussion with friends and colleagues about the way forward.
AdLib, that’s great– Demoralized Anonymous! And while I, too, am annoyed at those who claim Obama is Bush-lite (Are they kidding me?!), I am seriously annoyed with my Party! It astounds me that they KNOW what will really save money (single payer), they KNOW what the public really wants (yep– single payer) and still they pretend otherwise. It’s become a farce.
For one stop watching progressive pundits. They don’t care about you or anyone else save for keeping market share. It’s a waste of time spending your life listening to the talking heads when you can decipher the information yourself.
Second it’s a pet peeve of mine is that Obama never presented himself as a radical progressive. Instead he always said he wanted to work with the other side to bring this country together. In fact he said he would add more troops in Afghanistan not draw back. Anyone who read his books knew what the man was all about. Everyone wanted him to be everyone else like the mirror they put up to Lincoln, FDR or even LBJ but he’s BHO.
What the president does do is get things done which is a far bigger improvement on other Dem presidents back to LBJ. Healthcare is the best example. Kennedy could have compromised with Nixon, Clinton could have compromised with centrist Dems at the time but for the first time a president is coming through on universal healthcare warts and all.
You last paragraph sentence on concrete practices is most important. I think too much colonization leads to the group think and over expectations that lead to disappointment.
Hi KQ. I am of two minds about how Obama presented himself– he certainly was upfront about his centrist tendencies, but he was also a transformative figure. He was a combination of FDR AND Clinton, and I can easily see how many voters thought he was more FDR. Actually, I see him as unique in his mixed ideologies.
But the main thing for me is to stay engaged with all but the most ridiculous on the Left. I think most can be reasoned with. I know this because I was almost like them– and it took more reasoned voices to talk me down to the place where I am more realistic.
Before I start to say what what is really on my mind, I have to say that I’m inspired by articles like this and many more, however I might disagree.
The man you chose, is but a man. Perfect, no. In tune with all your needs, no. Aware of all your needs, yes. Always able to satisfy all of you, no. Still I feel you are luckier than most of us.
Hi Cher- I am NOT demoralized by this administration! I think he is well on his way to making massive changes we have all claimed we want, including shifting authority back to Congress and restoring the rule of law.
What we all miss – and did not realize we wanted – is the clarity that comes from executive orders, an imperial presidency that is just on OUR side. The rule of law is very ponderous and quiet. I think we all are discovering how unfamiliar we are with democracy.
Remember that Bill Clinto did less, accomplished less on our behalf, made far more errors (remember the revolving door Supreme Court nominees etc.?) and was on a crash and burn route until after Oklahoma City where his calm leadership finally made him shine? We think of him as effective, but only second term, and only then because he followed the Wall Street groupthink on selling our birthright for a mess of pottage.
Obama has already done huge things, and I think you will discover that our final health care plan is vastly better than the Senate version since he and Reid quietly have put nothing but progressives and one cowed Blue Dog (Baucus has shut up due to his personal scandal) on Conference Committee.
We are so used to the Bush-Cheney-Reagan bombast that we don’t know how to react to calm, drama-free leadership. Far too much hyperventilating has come from OUR “lefty” media that has not learned to 1. verify facts or 2. stand down and WAIT before insisting the sky is falling. Even Rachel, one of the most careful commentators EVER, gets ahead of the information now and then.
My advice about being demoralized? Deep, cleansing breaths. We need to WATCH and we need to WAIT because it took 60 years to build this mess (WW II on) and it won’t change overnight.
And what of the powerful Right? I think they’re damned scary, but the Seven Days in May factors just aren’t present. Obama’s relationship with the Joint Chiefs is vastly better than Kennedy’s ever was. They are different people; he is less naive than JFK.
The Shadow Right – Cheney, Xe Corp., C Street – now they are damned scary and may well be a serious threat domestically and internationally. They MUST be investigated and soon!!! They violate the Logan Act every time they give aid and comfort to foreign governments and support tyrants in opposition to our national goals. But they ARE being exposed both through work such as Sharlet’s “The Family” and legally as in the court briefs against Prince. And C Street has become a laughingstock – Best Little Whorehouse in DC! I think over time you will see more and more people pulling away from that kind of power mad phony Christianity! It’s corrupt and corrupting, and it is losing steam. Look what moral outrage did in driving Warren FINALLY to public denounce the death to gays legislation in Uganda. That would NEVER have happened before now.
And – fundamental to the feeling of efficacy and the feeling of discouragement – is how much we are engaged with speaking our minds and raising our voices. Obama said his job was to return democratic practices to us, the people. I think, because I mobilize a very large organization in the progressive Christian world to speak against torture, for real health care, for LGBTQ rights and women’s right to make her own moral decisions, because that is my daily work, and because I do this directly with several thousand core people and vastly more “out there” I don’t know – because I feel involved and engaged and connected – I DO FEEL I MAKE A DIFFERENCE – and so do our members. We make things change.
Belonging – sort of – to MoveOn etc. is not the same. The power of efficacy is being with people in the same room, working for the same goal. Some of us are less able to do that depending on where we live, but that is the power of the campaign, and it CAN continue. JOIN something and actually GO to see a legislator – thank them if they’re good, and tell them what you really want if they are not. If you can’t go, write or call. But find a group with which to ally where you see real people now and then. HUGE difference!
It is engagement that the progressives lack – we don’t have it anymore because we thought it was over when we got Obama elected.
Nope. That’s when democratic advocacy started, not when it ended.
So no, I am not discouraged. I really like what I see Obama doing, and I really see change. What does discourage me though is why so few of us nationally really do see the transformation this nation is undergoing. We need to recover our sense of community. We need to recover our commitment to work. We need to remember what we wanted and then realize when we have it.
Then we might not be discouraged at all.
Wow — what an inspiring and empowering post, choicelady.
I agree with so much of what you say. I blame — as usual — the media for doing a lousy job in communicating the actions of this administration. They do not write about what change is taking place, and they do not explain how the new policies of this administration are affecting our daily lives.
It is somewhat disheartening to me to see the progressive movement fall apart the way it has — and that’s the way I see it. Now is the time for the really hard work to begin, and too many people seem to be walking away, or encouraging others to walk away.
Thanks for your voice of reason. It’s always a pleasure to read what you have to say.
Thanks, all of you, for your kind words. I’m glad, bito, that you understand first hand, what change in America is like! S-L-O-W! KQuark is so correct that the progressive pundits are not always our friends. Some of you know that a progressive ally of mine really is trying to screw my organization over – we inside the progressive world are not immune to this kind of individualism, even with our views. We need to collaborate, we need to give each “actor” in our world his or her or its due because this effort is too big for any one of us to do alone.
But we’re sometimes our own worst enemies. I think my strength is my willingness to support groups and individuals whose work is not mine – I fulfill the old theater adage: show up and hit your marks. I’m there for others. I’m also TIRED of not getting loyalty BACK, but it does not mean I will cut anyone out unless I have very good reason. We are too small a universe to undermine ANY good work others are doing even if it’s not ours.
We all want community, but that of necessity means honoring others. We sometimes have to remember that the strength of community is tolerating – celebrating – our differences in approach, resources, message, work, personality. We progressives don’t have the discipline that the Right has or had. They did not dis one another, and that’s how they got where they are or were. We progressives are awfully quick to criticize our peers, when we should be focused on Cheney, Bush, Xe, the Family, and all the hairsprayed religious zealots.
We should NOT be picking one another off! We will never have the discipline of the Right since being different is our strength, but we CAN honor those differences. Otherwise we just gripe.
I love Keith and Rachel for showing us the steaming underbelly of the Right – but we surely do not want to emulate that!
We all contribute. We all make a huge difference. It’s way too early in the game to give up or be discouraged. WAY too early!
The dirtiest four-letter word in the English language is WAIT. I know that from lousy drivers, and from my impatient allies. But waiting and continuing to work for what we want is precisely what we need to do.
Dirty word or not – it’s essential. And then the GOOD four-letter word – HOPE. I still have it and encourgage all of us to share it.
Awesome post! 😀
C’Lady, as always excellent gift you have given us with another insightful post. Like a parent picking a favorite child, without offending anyone,Your posts are the most insightful for me.
My father held an elected position for years. I saw him work on projects that took years, making proposals, making compromises, the grant and loan process, being lied to, rumors of being on the take from the mob and watching few congratulate him by getting something accomplished.
I have stated this before: Elections are fun — Legislating is work!
Thank you again for the work you do, and keeping us informed!
Fantastic post! As my comments here have often shown, I am among the demoralized, but when I read something like this I am inspired and uplifted.
I think YOU should run for president!
Thank you, whatsthatsound, but I have a “checkered past” and will be hornswoggled if I’ll let the religous right at me! I’m also a darned sight more effective doing what I’m doing! Cranky women usually are better on the sidelines keeping the elected folks honest! But that’s very kind of you to say!
Cher, don’t take this the wrong way, it’s actually a compliment, I have nothing to say. You pretty much nailed it, in fact, formulated things I knew, but wasn’t able to formulate (and organize) so coherently!
So please don’t be offended if I pivot. You mentioned Beck. For this guy to say offensive stupid stuff (and at this time, I’d like to mention my dad shares his hometown with this loon (Mt. Vernon). Anyway, once in a while, when nothing else is on I play a little game: how much Beck or Hannity can I sit through and endure? Well, apparently Media Matters has picked up on the same thing here as I did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b84cDbZrFIk
The South Asian/Indian-American community isn’t pleased. My god this asshole is an effing racist. No doubt about it. He’s learned how to play with words better with the black folk, and maybe even the Latinos, but when it comes to Indians and Hindu sacred sites, I’d like to point out that the angel Moroni sounds a lot like moron
Anyway, thanks. I was wondering what the polls on likely voters was. I knew that the right was more energized, but I just hope that within 11 months we’ll see improving unemployment numbers, and the campaign season in full swing (it is sort of silly in some respects to look into the crystal ball this far ahead, though for long-term thinking, vitally important). I can only wish for a Tea Party Party to have all the success in the world. FM or javaz, up there, maybe even BITO could correct me, but I’d gotten wind that polling from McCain’s primary challenger was surprising.
And yes, you’ve done what we wonks often lose sight of (though never me, as I have a lot of friends and family members like this – as I’d imagine do we all) – we are not the ones we have to worry about. Nor is it even those who are mad (or feel “duped”, as the concern trolls would have us believe) – it’s people who simply go back to their lives and lose interest in politics altogether again. I know my sister only started asking questions about Obama like one or two weeks prior (to her apolitical credit, on Sarah Palin – and it would be funnier if you knew my sister – she just quizzically said, “where did they find this woman?”). I can’t imagine her voting in midterms regardless, though who knows, she’s finally starting to come around on that stuff. She’s not exactly my barometer, but sort of the low end of what we should be worried about. Not the mostly apolitical, but the nominal Dems by default – but not passion. The ones who bother to register but not vote. And, for a workin’ class guy or gal, struggling, coming home from a hard days work at one job or two, or whatever part-time work they can find, didn’t go to college, are common sense good people, but not too interested in ‘political talk’, well, I can’t blame ’em. We need to find a way to get them to take interest again… and while I found the answers for our own malaise intriguing and worth pursuing, I don’t know what the strategists would say could be done about this demographic.
One last thing from your article:
“After all, the actual act of voting is not really all that easy, what with the lines, the weather, whatnot.”
That is so true… but, everytime I see people in the snow waiting in lines I am puzzled. Why doesn't every state do what Oregon does? I do it here, too, where it's optional. They encourage it (and we Arizona Dems encouraged it, too, since it's a vote that can be tallied off early) and it's made easy. Mail-in! In Oregon everything is mail-in. There is NO excuse not to vote (“oh I lost it in the mail”, yeah right, I heard that a few times on the phone until they looked under a stack of bills and I helped them fill it out). Thing is, voting can be easy. Super easy. Sure, you miss the fuzzy feeling of standing in the booth, but now, I’m so used to voting in my jammies, it ain’t no thang. Only been to the polls twice: my first election in 2000, and after first moving to Arizona, once. Voted in every little election and proposition and special council election whatnot since. I’m still bewildered why there isn’t a greater move to get every state and every friggin’ Democrat signed up to vote by mail in the country. If you so feel like it, you can keep it around and drop it off, or go to the polls instead later.
==Okay, Rant #2 Done==
Turns out, I had more to say than I had thought. 😉
BTW, from Wiki: “He [Joe McDermott] is one of six openly gay members of the Washington State Legislature, serving alongside Sen. Ed Murray (D
Wow Khirad, that is a whole lot of “nothing” wrapped into one post.
My question is, when do we stop to think only about ourselves, I really need to know, tell me when?
I spend such a short time each day thinking about myself, I think I need to join a seminar to teach me that I’m more important than anyone else.
My other question would be, if I was an American now, would I just be a Dem or a progressive?
I tend to have low expectations, life’s lessons, but still would say that my glass is half full, who am I??
Thank you, Khirad, for your really thoughtful reply. I want to talk a little more about those Dems who say they will stay home and not vote. Based on what I am reading and on what I hear, they WILL stay home, unless something very impressive happens before 2010-12, like a real jobs turnaround or even something unforeseen.
It’s not just about the puny health care reform, it’s cumulative. It about the bailout and the ensuing bonuses, about the escalation in Af/Pak, about DADT, the non-prosecution of torture, and of course, about the jobless recovery. And about the impression among many Dems–not just on the Left– that Obama is too “weak,” too conciliatory. (I happen to believe he is actually stronger than he’s given credit for– bombastic cowboys are weak IMO.)
But the fact remains: The perception, however unfair, is that he “caves.” And I have heard it said many times, that Americans forgive anything but weakness. That’s the characteristic of this country– we admire the appearance of strength, not real strength. Too many Democrats are unhappy and will stay home, unless we can reach them.
Cher, it’s 1:30 a.m. and I’m finally home from work (having found out , while I was there, that my daughter’s boyfriend crunched my car…and he has no insurance! OY! I have coverage on the car, but if the woman he hit decides to sue, guess who gets left holding the bag? OY! But that’s neither here nor there… :o)
It’s does relate to the issue of demoralization, though, I suppose!
Why are Dems teetering on the brink of being demoralized? In my case it has to do with realizing that all my life I had overestimated the power of democracy to ensure that the wisdom of the people would virtually always be realized through the vote.
But then I found out that… People opt not to vote, for various reasons. Or they vote and their vote ends up in the pile with the dangling chads. Or they stand in line in the rain for six hours and finally give up because the Repub Sec. of their state has decided that two machines are enough for their whole liberal district. Or some guy who’s only fairly good with computers shows the country how easy it is to hack a Diebold voting machine. Or people watch Fox news and go into the voting booth with heads full of lies. In short…having the legal right to vote guarantees much less than I ever realized it did. That’s demoralizing.
Seeing the numbers on which congresspeople take how many millions from which corporations. That’s demoralizing.
I could go on and on about how–at long last–over the last year, I’ve had to abandon my naivete about politics, that I didn’t even recognize as having been naivete up until then!
But then I remind myself of how demoralizing it was, at one time, for me to receive a cancer diagnosis. I must have concealed it fairly well, because people used to say to me: “I’m amazed at how you’re accepting this.” My wry answer was always the same: “What’s the alternative? NOT accepting it?” As if that was an option!! It’s the same here. Things ARE a mess. It’s not being “negative” to acknowledge that.
And when I accept that, then I have to go back even further (as you did) and pull out lessons that were taught long ago. (In my case, even back to childhood!)
Some of those lessons?
–It isn’t about me and/or my ego; it’s about the welfare of the group as a whole.
–When I work toward the good, it’s with the knowledge that I may not see the good I hope for in the near future, or even in my lifetime.
–Just because I cannot dictate the outcome of a whole election with my single, tiny vote, is no reason not to vote.
–Things often really are darkest just before the dawn (it’s not always a cliche).
–Quitting is not an option. But it’s equally important not to be surprised by occasional setbacks that will make quitting seem oh so appealing.
–There will be times when evil truly does appear to win. (It certainly felt that way for many after the King/Kennedy assassinations. And yet here we are with a black President.) Those times don’t last.
–For praying folk there’s a saying: “Pray as though it all depends on God. Work as though it all depends on you.” Turning anxiety and anger over to some other “Force” (kind of the way whatsthatsound mentions!) instead of trying to grit our teeth and bear every burden, setback or defeat single handedly can help prevent (or at least delay) burnout.
And the message that the Reich wing (and depressed Progressives) needs to get from us is: “We are never, ever, EVER going to give up.”
Deep in my heart…I do believe…we shall overcome…some…day… Remember, anyone?
Wow– Fabulous, Kes, just a wonderful post. Thank you. What you wrote is so morale BOOSTING! And yes, that song resonated more now than ever. Thanks again.
Cher, just found your kind words after I got home from work. Thank you so much! Just saw that the Senate was working as late as I did and just voted for cloture (60-40) on the Reid Amendment. Slowly, slowly things are moving forward…
I know it’s pretty trite and probably lame, but to lighten things up, perhaps? To me, this administration is like the political version of George Lucas. Call it the “Episode IV Syndrome”. When we were younger, we watched the first Star Wars movie, and many of us were mesmerized! For me personally, it gave me as an adolescent the same feeling of magic I got from Christmas as a small child. The feeling that the first two (third not so much) Star Wars movies gave us when we were younger was something we anticipated feeling again, when we found out that after many years Lucas was restarting the series with a new movie. Expectations were at an all time high! It was more than just a hyped up movie, it was an event that people awaited, a chance to feel some of that magic again.
And then? We sat through a mess of a movie that was made for children with a growing sense of WTF? It was as if Lucas had forgotten, or never realized, exactly what it was he had done twenty years earlier. And it was infuriating, because he offered no apologies. To this day he is in denial about what duds his second trilogy of films were.
That feeling, that we were going to see some magic in our lives again, especially after eight years of a presidency we could hardly believe we were living through, and then the rhetoric of “change” and “hope” and “Yes We Can!”. It’s been a rude and abrupt awakening. May the Force be with us!
That is a very apt analogy. The sense of wonder and magic is great, but not the everyday, mundane that we experience. We need our myths but we live in the now, the world where the daily grind of work dims those ideals. But the work goes on– what did Teddy Kennedy say?–the dream will never die.
Your words are speaking to us all I think. 🙂
So I just looked at my email and lo and behold– there is a new message from Organizing For America, Obama’s campaign organization. There is a brief message asking me to PLEASE watch a video “just for you!”
My first reaction was that I’m not watching another damn video, but I am going to reply with a few choice words! But before I did, whatever, I watched.
Well, it’s a cleaver video, all these people across the country holding up signs with my real name, my name in lights on the side of buildings, on the side of a barn, trailing an airplane, etc. People thanking me for my hard work, wishing me Happy Holidays. Then at the end, Barack Obama looks into the camera, and wishes me Seasons greetings, sits at a desk and signs a card addressed to ME.
My husband was watching me, and said my face was hilarious– first angry, cynical, then surprised and finally, smiling. OK, I am a known sap.
The cynical me says, “Sure, throw the base a cheap bone, after disappointing them so often.”
The real me? Says, “Gee, they ARE worried about losing us.”
BTW, this was one of many emails I get from the White House daily! Trust me, I’m not a big donor.
Gosh where do I sign up to get a message from your President?
I may not be an American but I certainly fought for him on Huff for more than 2 years.
Beats me! The fact is of course, it’s not really personalized anymore than is any e-card. Just kinda cute, and admittedly, an impressive amount of work to key in every one of those millions of names. I was just struck be the fact that they realized it was necessary.
It was tongue-in-cheek and yes I know, my friend used to share her earlier ones with me.
I didn’t get one! 🙁 Hehe. 😉
Hey, I got one of those too. Thanks for pointing it out — I didn’t even watch it at first and had to resurrect it from my trash folder.
Pull your damned socks up.
LOL!! Aye, aye, Cap’n! Thanks!
And don’t be a stranger.
Not a chance K7.
I guess, for me at least, the key is to differentiate between met expectations and progress. If we’re going in a good direction, I’m pretty much okay. Even when my dreams are not met. I guess I have no expectations at all when it comes to politics. I only have hope that we’ll do what’s best for people.
Which is why the Bush years were so painful. So many wrong, destructive decisions. So much time wasted. So much damage done.
This administration is trying to turn that around. It’s going to be slow and frustrating. But as long as the effort and movement are in a good direction, I don’t feel discouraged. Of course, seeing the dreams come true is wonderful, but if the dream is the only acceptable outcome, there’s bound to be disappointment. It takes time to make dreams a reality.
I know, Nellie. But I sense a serious case of demoralization among far too many, and worry about it in 2010. I think it’s important to understand where they are coming from. It really doesn’t help to dismiss them.
I’m not dismissing the feelings at all. I’m just explaining why I feel differently — expressing how I feel, just the way everyone else has expressed how they feel.
I’m sorry, Nellie, I didn’t mean to say YOU are dismissive. Please let me explain: What I meant to say is, that I feel as you do, and feeling that way makes ME impatient with those who are ready to write Obama off. I have called them childish. I have argued with them disrespectfully.
Then I came to realize that they have their point of view and that if I dismiss them, I have no chance to reason with the— That I shut off dialogue. I know you don’t do that, but many do. I am looking for another way, that’s all.
No harm no foul. And I agree — it’s important not to let disagreement become division.
I can also get very impatient with impatience. Because giving up never accomplishes anything.
I worry that a fractured progressive movement will be an ineffectual one. I have the sounds of Shock and Awe in my head more often than I should. I don’t want us to go back to that kind of country. We need to find a way to work together, and stick together, even when we’re viewing the progress — or lack thereof — very differently.
I see everyone’s points.
It’s valid to feel frustrated that health care reform is so difficult, and we are not going nearly far enough (far enough to even call it reform, even?), but I do get impatient and even dismissive when I see people make or post comments that “Obama is Bush Lite” or “There’s no difference between Bush and Obama.” I find that ludicrous and hard to take seriously.
The analogy I make is that there were some things about Clinton that really exasperated me — signing NAFTA and DADT, allowing his presidency to be derailed by his horn-dog ways — etc. But I would still have voted for him knowing what I know now, and he was a damn sight better than Bush Sr. or Dole.
I hear someone like Howard Dean, whom I respect, give reasons why he thinks the health care bill as is should be shelved. And I can accept that. He thinks the bill should be split. There’s room for discussion.
But I have to agree with you that when people resort to saying Obama is just like Bush, I can’t find a meeting of the minds. That is a way to end a conversation, not to start one.
I guess both sides can work on a better conversation.
Much appreciated. I think it is time to drop derogatory remarks such as “childish”, “whiners”, etc., when referring to people who have looked at the last nine or ten months and assessed them differently. They don’t deserve to be talked down to and have their feelings and concerns dismissed/ridiculed just because they are different from one’s own views.
Great post, btw.
BTW, Chernynkaya: so glad to see you’re posting here! 🙂 The HuffingtonPost has become intolerable.
Sorry if I sound so put off.
Not at all, LITU! I love to debate a real mensch! (That means: A real human being!) I am happy here too and always respect your opinion.