I wrote about John McCain yesterday and why, even though he's a maddening figure, he does deserve support. G-Man at Boots On has posted an excellent piece on the same topic. I want to call out one point G-Man makes in particular that cannot be repeated often enough:
Still, I know what many of you are feeling. Frustration, betrayal, anger,
disgust, and want for vindication likely sums it up. But, for now, box these
feelings – don't forget them – just set them aside for awhile. Your decision
about voting in November should be driven by clear thinking and not emotional
impulse – as is the case with most Democrats. It's time to live up to the bumper
sticker Republicans Think, Democrats Feel.
Emotion is a tricky business; because we are human, we think and feel. I have struggled to control my emotions at different times in my life; it's a universal problem. One of the hallmarks of maturity is recognizing when your emotions are taking over and finding a way to step back.
Dealing with overly emotional people is always a challenge and it's one reason why many conservatives struggle with those on the left. While it's never good to be too emotional, controlling your emotions too much can backfire. One of the signature moments of the 1988 campaign was when moderator Bernard Shaw asked Michael Dukakis whether he would want vengeance if his wife was murdered. Dukakis, ever the soulless technocrat, chose to deflect the question and offered a colorless disquisition on his opposition to the death penalty. While he might have lost the election anyway, that moment probably sealed his doom.
One of the most interesting and potentially troubling things about this campaign thus far is how masterfully Barack Obama has played with the emotions of our always-excitable friends on the port side. Obama himself is a cool, cool customer. He almost never seems to get angry; about the only person I've seen in public life who is as visibly in control is Tony Dungy, the eerily serene coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Yet when you watch Obama on the stump, and when you consider the way some of his supporters behave, it's fascinating. He stays above the fray, even as the adoring throngs come to him, looking for all the world as if they want to touch the hem of his garment.
I wrote about this phenomenon twice before, but its persistence has become, at least for me, the story of the campaign thus far. A lot of Democrats understand the world in thoroughly secular terms and a fair percentage either don't believe in God or don't think the God is particularly relevant in the modern world. One can go through life that way, I suppose, but it has to be difficult. There's something universal in humans that makes us yearn for an explanation for the unexplainable. This is the root of faith and it seems to me that a lot of people are singularly lacking in faith.
I brought up Dungy because his serenity is completely grounded in his Christian faith; he trusts in God so completely that he can be serene about everything that happens in his life. It's increasingly evident that a whole lot of people are viewing Obama as some sort of savior who will transcend the unpleasantness of our politics and point the way to something new. This yearning is largely emotional and Obama is using it masterfully. I hope Obama understands what a dangerous game he is playing, because as a politician he cannot give meaning to people's lives.
Politics is about conflict, compromise, priniciple and sometimes treachery. For Obama to govern, he will necessarily have to engage in conflict and treachery from time to time. There are many people who are getting emotional about the Obama campaign and many of these individuals are putting an enormous amount of faith in this man. I wonder who is going to pick up the pieces for these individuals when Obama inevitably has to disappoint them.