Passion vs. Anger

PASSION vs. ANGER….Ezra Klein passes along some advice from Grover Norquist:

The left, he argued, shouldn’t seek to simply mimeograph the right’s structure ? CAP for Heritage, Media Matters for Media Research Council, etc. “You don’t have to have the same weapons in politics because both aren’t structured the same.” Back in gladitorial days, one warrior would have a sword, the other a trident and net. You play to your strengths, not to your opponent’s. I found this to be a remarkably compelling point.

Obviously you can take this point too far. Basic politics is basic politics, and figuring out what to say, who to say it to, and how to say it most effectively is important no matter what side you’re on.

But I’ll take the opportunity here to agree with Norquist in one particular way. It strikes me that modern American culture rewards conservatives when people are angry and polarized and rewards liberals when people are united and forward looking. (Relatively speaking, of course.) This is why I don’t especially think the left needs its own Ann Coulter, or its own Karl Rove. We need effective advocates and smart political operatives, of course, but they need to operate on an entirely different wavelength. Fanning the flames of anger, even in our own cause, produces a political environment that ultimately helps conservatives.

Someday, perhaps, I’ll think about this idea hard enough to decide if it’s more than passing whimsy, and then I’ll write something longer about it. For now, though, I’ll throw this out: for the right, anger is more important than passion. For the left, passion is more important than anger. We should act accordingly.