Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Can Americans Handle Their Anger?

This tweet sums up where I usually come down on politics.
As I said in this post from the last election cycle, I rarely vote for anyone; my votes usually are against someone. While live blogging Monday's events at the 2016 Democratic Convention, Harry Enten of the FiveThiryEight blog wrote,
One question I wonder about these days is where have the popular politicians gone? I just spoke about how Michelle Obama isn’t all that popular, and, despite the huge applause in this hall, neither is Elizabeth Warren. While many Americans still don’t have an opinion of Warren, those who do are slightly more likely to have a negative than positive opinion of her. That, combined with Clinton and Trump being two of the most unpopular nominees in recent history, makes you think that Americans are just pissed off at everyone.[Emphasis mine]
Because I am a perpetually angry human, my fellow citizens' being "pissed off at everyone" concerns me. To adapt a line from Dashiell Hammet's The Maltese Falcon, anger is "something you can't do judiciously, unless you keep in practice." Given that looking on the bright side is "a patriotic norm in the United States, a matter of national identity and an sacrosanct mantra of living as a red-blooded American," it's unlikely that most Americans have had enough practice to be judicious in their anger.

A body politic practiced in anger would have created a four-way race between Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson. If the binary option is necessary, judiciously angry folk likely would have found far better vessels than Trump or Clinton. They certainly would be able to act with less petulance than the Sanders supporters in Philadelphia or the Trump faithful who booed Ted Cruz's injunction to vote your conscience.

The angry rookies should consider a return to optimism until after this election. Then, they can practice until they can be judicious in their anger. Elections shouldn't be left to novices.

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