OP-ED: Crazy Can Only Get You So Far
By Stefan Jones, Washington County Democrats Communications Team Volunteer
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
— Hunter S. Thompson
There’s a certain cynical satisfaction in the Gonzo journalist’s quip, but in actual practice craziness doesn’t lend itself to productivity. Especially the productivity that is required to be part of a functional government. Expressing belief in conspiracy theories, cultivating resentment, and sowing fear can be powerful motivators, but they can only get you so far. A political career or movement built on these pillars might burn brightly for a while, but it will sputter. Look at The Tea Party.
It is not just Republicans in other states that have fallen in with “thh crazy.” The Oregonian recently published two notable items:
The descent of the GOP into shamelessly partisan nuttiness is dismaying, but it is also an opportunity. Craziness can lead to dysfunction: The inability to put together coalitions, to broaden one’s appeal, to get donations, and to organize a campaign. The same extreme statements that rile up people at a rally of true believers will make you look like an utter fool in a debate, and can be used against you in attack ads. Let’s not fight crazy with crazy. Let’s fight it with compassion and strategic reason.
This is not the time to take a rest, or be dragged down into dismay by the latest snarls and bravado of Trump’s remaining supporters. Democrats must, once again, do the job of the grown-ups in a house full of toddlers. Ignoring the tantrums as best they can, cleaning up the messes, and keeping things going.
This is the time to follow the lead of Stacy Abrams and other grass-roots leaders, and double down on civic engagement. It’s time for new ideas and doing the hard work of finding partners, building coalitions, pitching in together, and getting the job done. Here are a few possibilities:
- Join the Indivisible organization, who recently released a new version of their guide to effective activism. Indivisible has several local chapters.
- You can also help out a more targeted advocacy group such as 350.org, which is rallying support in the fight against climate change. Or Fair Fight Action, which strives to get every possible eligible citizen registered to vote and fights voter suppression.
- Volunteer for a campaign! Elections for local office are happening this year; pitching in can really help. (See the 2018 op-ed, “The Importance of Off-year Elections“
- Run for office yourself! The WashCo Dems are here to help
- Of course, you can volunteer for the Washington County Democrats, or your own local Democratic party.
I’d like to close with a quote from our second president, a far from perfect man who nevertheless wrote in a letter to a friend something the resonates today:
“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.”– Thomas Jefferson
ADDENDUM: Perhaps recognizing that their party leadership has gone too far, Oregon’s Republican legislatures have disavowed its controversial resolution.
[Ed- You can learn how to remind your Democratic neighbors about elections and voting here. No more paper and clipboards, just an app on your phone to smoothly check everyone off your list. Because of Covid, you don’t need to talk face to face, just drop a provided flier, or text or call them during election season. Compete against your fellow NLP’s to see who can get more “stars” for your successful reminders. Before you know it, everyone in your neighborhood will be voting as a habit, even when they move away. Take pride in making your little corner of the world a steady asset for progressive causes.]
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