I’m angry too.

I’m angry at those who try to obstruct improvement of the human condition, and at those who obstruct improvement of the human condition while trying to facilitate it. I’m angry at both those who lack any sense of responsibility to one another, and those who lack any sense of how to satisfy that responsibility to one another. I’m angry at those progressives among us who try to turn every meeting into a group therapy session, focused on how mad they are that their imperfect certainties of the world are not being adequately realized by the candidates that they supported. I’m angry at hubris, and inflexibility, and attempts to impose the noise and obstruction of false certainties on a system already clogged with noise and obstructions of all kinds. I’m angry at folly, littered liberally across the ideological spectrum.

I’m angry at those who believe that progressive activism should consist entirely of trying to impose one’s own will on government, and not at all of trying to inform the will that is being imposed. I’m angry at those who believe that if they are convinced that something must be, then making it so must be good. I’m angry at those who think a straight line is the best path to all destinations, even if the destination cannot be reached by it.

I’m angry at those whose self-indulgent and unproductive anger drives productive people away, dominating discourse and derailing progress. I’m angry at those progressives who are essentially the same as Tea Partiers, only filling in the blanks of the same Mad-lib differently; who are political fundamentalists of another shade, characterized by the same attitude, adamant and inflexible, impermeable to new information, content to be absolutely certain of inevitably imperfect understandings. I’m angry at those who respond to the intentional obstruction of progress with the unintentional obstruction of progress, forming an implicit alliance with those they purport to oppose. I’m angry with those who adhere to and reinforce the cycle of blindly ideological opposition rather than striving to transcend it, as would serve an authentic progressive movement.

I’m angry at those who think that unproductive bitching is the epitome of political activism, and that attempts to plan and execute efforts to actually affect the political and ideological landscape are distractions from their “substantive work.” I’m angry at people who combine working to get favored candidates elected with anger that those candidates consistently disappoint them, or anger that fellow progressives made other choices, while doing nothing to assist those candidates in their efforts to persuade constituents who are not in agreement. I’m angry with people who think elections are the breadth and depth of politics, and that all challenges are met by winning them, though even they constantly observe that the evidence is overwhelmingly to the contrary.

I’m angry with people who completely ignore the importance of creating a context which facilitates what we want our elected officials to do. I’m angry with people who don’t understand that getting progressives elected and re-elected is just the most superficial layer of the political challenge we face, and that unless we address the layers beneath it, we will be both less successful at achieving that superficial layer, and less successful at making such success, when it comes, conducive to the ends we had in mind when pursuing it.

I’m angry at those who don’t understand that electoral politics is just the beginning of the challenge; that the rest involves more, not less, responsibility on our part. And the tragedy is that too few people undertake that more essential responsibility.

I’m angry at people who take pride in a passionate commitment to change things for the better that is being squandered in ways which are more emotionally gratifying than effective, and, if anything, actually contribute more to ensuring that things won’t change for the better than that they will. I’m angry when these people speak for the progressive movement, attempt to ostracize and disinvite those who aren’t like them in order better to wallow with fellow travelers in an ecstasy of complete ineffectiveness.

But I’m not angry about the possibilities that lie beyond their fortifications, that can attract larger numbers of more able souls. I’m not angry, but rather am hopeful, that there are many who are silent, put-off, disgusted, and alienated by the combination of arrogance, ignorance, anger, and intransigence that characterizes many of the most vocal lay participants, of all ideological stripes, in our political process. I’m hopeful that a different kind of progressive movement, a more pragmatic but  more robust and effective progressive movement, can attract the vast silent majority, who strive to be reasonable people of goodwill, and seek only a sign directing them to where reason and goodwill reside.

I’m hopeful that those of us so inclined will be able to find and create venues in which tackling the real challenges we face, that are ours to tackle, is considered the proper focus of our efforts rather than a distraction from them. I’m hopeful that there are those who want to work with some degree of humility to do our part, on the ground, to improve the quality of life in this state, nation, and world, both by affecting government, and by affecting the context within which it operates.

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