Thursday, November 9, 2023

#313 / The Politics Of Anger


Where politics is concerned, not many people are approaching the debates and discussions that are at the center of politics in that "Clap Along" spirit touted in yesterday's blog posting

Pharrell Williams is urging us all to "Be Happy." Not too many of us can get into that "Happy" frame of mind where politics is concerned. In fact, the very day that I spotted the Washington Post article from which the above illustration was obtained, political commentator Joe Garofoli was using his column in the San Francisco Chronicle to tell us about a recent speech by former president Trump. That our former president is "Angry" perhaps understates the way Mr. Trump thinks about our contemporary politics: 

Former President Donald Trump said if elected he would send “every asset” under his control to shoot the “Marxist monsters unleashing mayhem in Los Angeles and San Francisco” who are committing retail theft. 

“Very simply, if you are robbing a store you can fully expect to be shot as you’re leaving,” Trump said, getting one of the loudest ovations of his rambling 90-minute speech Friday from the 1,500 people at the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim.

“Word that ‘they shoot you’ will get out within minutes and our nation in one day will be an entirely different place,” Trump said, saying that we’ve “taken away the dignity” of law enforcement.

His suggestion that officers break the law as a solution to lawlessness was illustrative of a speech devoid of any shred of hope or vision or uplift. What it did have was vituperative attacks, personal grievances, lies and ideas that were less than half-baked. On California’s biggest challenges, the former president said he would address wildfires by wetting forest floors and made vague promises about bringing more water to farmers (emphasis added).

While our current president, Joe Biden, is trying - as best he can - to "keep on the sunny side" as he comments on the political realities we read about each day in the newspaper, I think it is fair to say that our contemporary politics is - and increasingly so - a "Politics of Anger." 

If this rings true to those reading this blog posting, then let me tell you what the article from which I got that image at the top says. The article, published in the Washington Post, was not about "politics." It was about brain chemistry, and was titled, "Anger overwhelms our thinking brain."

Christopher W.T. Miller, MD, who is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing at the University of Maryland Medical Center and an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, tells us that anger actually modifies our brain chemistry, so that the angrier we are, the less we can, actually, think. 

I think there is a lot of truth in Dr. Miller's observations. If he is right - as I suspect he is - then it is critically important that we get involved in politics but drop the anger. 

"Anger" seems justified, oftentimes - at least it does to me. But.... we just can't afford to lose our ability to "think" about the political challenges confronting us. We just can't afford that!

I am not, candidly, a great fan of that "Be Happy," "Clap Along" spirit that Pharrell Williams is promoting, but "Anger" is not the way to do politics. 

I am absolutely certain that this is true from my personal experience (20 years as an elected official). That "brain chemistry" information just reinforces what I already knew!

Let's pay attention to Dr. Miller, and drop our tendency to indulge ourselves with a "Politics of Anger."

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