We Need ‘Stubborn, Nasty, and Defiant Optimism’ Now More Than Ever

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I will never forget Bruce Springsteen’s tribute to the legendary Pete Seeger at the celebration of the activist folk-singer’s 90th birthday.

Despite Pete’s somewhat benign grandfatherly appearance, he is a creature of stubborn, nasty, and defiant optimism. Inside him he carries a steely toughness that belies that grandfatherly facade and it won’t let him take a step back from the things he believes in. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger to the heart of our country’s illusions about itself … He reminds us of our immense failures as well as shinning a light toward our better angels on the horizon, where the country we’ve imagined and hold dear we hope awaits us.

That is not only a fitting tribute to Seeger, it is an aspirational statement that reminds the rest of us of what we strive to become, hoping that someday a poet like Springsteen will say something similar about us in our twilight years.

We are certainly living in times when our country’s illusions about itself have been shattered. More than just about any era in our lifetimes, it is critical that we display a steely toughness to shine a light on both our immense failures, as well as point toward our better angels on the horizon.

That is exactly what we here at Washington Monthly attempt to do every day. But as you know, times are tough for fearless independent journalism. The Institute for Nonprofit Journalism has launched a News for Good campaign and declared this #GivingTuesdayNow. So today, we ask you to consider making a donation, if you are able, to this publication, so that we can continue striving towards that goal.

My stubborn, nasty, and defiant optimism says that, if we all hang together, we’ll someday meet in the land of hope and dreams.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.