Sam Smith: How To Outflank The Tea Party (And Barack Obama)

"...we are faced with a politics reduced to two Mafia mobs, between which we will be asked to choose in 2012."

Sam Smith writes at the Progressive Review:
Pablo Davis in Memphis sent me a quote from the Argentinian essayist Arturo Jauretche that got me thinking about the key question of the day in a different sort of way.

That question, if you haven’t noticed, is this: what the hell do we do now?

The quote from Jauretche was: “The technique of our enemies is to demoralize and depress the people. Demoralized people don’t triumph and that’s was we come here today to battle joyfully. Nothing great can be accomplished from sadness. “

One of the reasons the right is doing so much better than the left these days is that the right has passion, while the left mostly has logic.

The problem with logic is that it easily ignores the passionate and the joyful. In its name, we trivialize the trivial, discounting the importance of the little things that keep people going in bad times.

The journalist Russell Baker understood this, writing once that, “Being solemn is easy. Being serious is hard ... Children almost always begin by being serious, which is what makes them so entertaining when compared to adults as a class ... Adults, on the whole, are solemn ... Being solemn has almost nothing to do with being serious.”

I understood this from an early age because my introduction to politics was not ideological or logical but as an eleven year old stuffing envelopes in a campaign that ended 69 years of Republican rule in Philadelphia. I had never seen anything quite as much fun and exciting as a political campaign office.

Many years later, I would write, “We have lost much of what was gained in the 1960s and 1970s because we traded in our passion, our energy, our magic and our music for the rational, technocratic and media ways of our leaders. We will not overcome the current crisis solely with political logic. We need living rooms like those in which women once discovered they were not alone. The freedom schools of SNCC. The politics of the folk guitar. The plays of Vaclav Havel. The pain of James Baldwin. The laughter of Abbie Hoffman. The strategy of Gandhi and King. Unexpected gatherings and unpredicted coalitions. People coming together because they disagree on every subject save one: the need to preserve the human. Savage satire and gentle poetry. Boisterous revival and silent meditation. Grand assemblies and simple suppers. Above all, we must understand that in leaving the toxic ways of the present we are healing ourselves, our places, and our planet. We rebel not as a last act of desperation but as a first act of creation." ...>more