You don’t get the kind of deep-level change we need without first exposing and channeling people’s deep discontent. Obama’s change talk may be too vague for most people’s tastes (including mine); but the fact is that if we’re serious about enacting a progressive agenda, rousing people’s deepest dreams and desires and mobilizing that energy is exactly how it’s going to happen. And Obama’s the first candidate we’ve had in a generation who really, truly gets this.
I was explaining this to somebody the other day in relation to my meatspace work, that there’s a way to play the underdog thing, such that it makes you feel more powerful and motivates you and makes every setback only seem like an egging-on, and a way to play the underdog thing such that it makes you want to curl up and die of the horror of being so fucking far behind the eight-ball.
(Not that it’s always healthy, by the way. Sometimes you lose because you suck. I watch a fair amount of reality TV*, you know, so I see a lot of these assholes where every person who disagrees with them only PROVES ALL THE MORE HOW RIGHT THEY REALLY ARE and YOU PERSECUTE BECAUSE I’M SO AWESOME and THAT WHICH DOES NOT KILL ME REINFORCES MY DELUSIONS OF ADEQUACY and so on. This is a cousin of that critter, rabid and drooling, and I’m not talking about that.)
I’m talking about creating an environment in which people can believe that not all obstacles are insurmountable. That’s more than just the issues, though I think to dismiss the issues in favor of talking about emotion is to dismiss our strength; it’s also deliberate rhetoric of perception, in that you’re telling others how to see you, what to look at when they do. You tell other people, every day, with everything you do, how to react to you. You tell them if it’s okay to mock you, to laugh at you, to pick on you, and I’m not trying to blame the victim here but there’s a certain here-take-my-lunch-money aspect of our party that needs to be rooted out, trained to throw some punches and knock out some goddamn teeth.
I read this somewhere back, posted on it, the psychology of tribalism voters and how they’re not really part of a political party so much as they’re in the cheering section for a football team, and the Bears suck because they justdo. As I said to one acquaintance who tried the “let me shove my offensive bullshit political cock in your face and then declare I don’t want to talk about politics,” you don’t want to argue, you want to gloat. It’s hard to gloat in position papers. It’s hard to make that into a cheer. Change, though. Hope. Readiness. Let’s go. Those are cheers.
And it’s all coherent, with the Democrats this time around, it’s all the kind of hash at which the Republicans excel, in that they’re for God and guns and values and morals and stuff, because they talk about the flag, and the military loves them. Right now the Democratic candidates are offering change, and awesome, and goodness, and experience, and they stand for jobs, and health care, and not sucking. They stand for smiles and speechmaking and damn, would you look at that turnout? Meanwhile the Republicans are flobbering around all wet and pasty, snapping at each other about who’s mean enough to capture the coveted shut-in Cheeto-snorfing embarrassment-to-actual-motherfuckers motherfucker vote. It’s enough to make my heart sing, and it’s not that I’m overconfident, it’s that once you establish the hash in people’s heads, it’s hard to get it out again. And our hash has the bonus aspects of actually being a) not composed entirely of bullshit and b) having at its core a desire to benefit other human beings.
*Anybody watching Survivor this season? My crush on Jonathan Penner is justembarrassing.