Don't get me wrong. It's always a good time to be a progressive leftie. But at the moment I'm not feeling much pleasurable buzz from being on the right, or better put, wisest, way of looking at the political world.
Let's count some of the reasons.
(1) Trump is emboldened following his impeachment acquittal. He's shown no sign of repentance for trying to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election. Aside from Senator Romney, congressional Republicans are kissing Trump's ass with disgusting relish.
(2) The Iowa caucuses were a disaster. The messed-up tally of results makes Democrats look incompetent.
(3) And the two candidates who came out on top in Iowa are Sanders, an avowed socialist, and Buttigieg, who basically has zero black support. I much prefer Buttigieg to Biden in the moderate camp, but I worry about the ability of either Sanders or Buttigieg to either beat Trump in November or bring the Democratic Party together -- a necessity for beating Trump.
(4) Trump's approval rating has shot up recently. Hopefully this is an aberration. However, his base of support certainly hasn't eroded, and it may be enlarging.
(5) Here in Oregon, the lumber trucks have arrived in Salem to once again protest the current version of the cap-and-trade bill to reduce carbon pollution so our planet remains fit for human habitation. Republicans likely will walkout like they did last session if it appears the bill has any chance of passing, dooming it for lack of a quorum.
So us progressives are in an awkward period.
Neither the candidate who can beat Trump, or the path to do so, is at all clear. Meanwhile Trump supporters and Republicans are rejoicing in Trump's State of the Union speech and the nasty in-your-face divisive remarks he made at, of all things, a Prayer Breakfast.
Plus, Oregon Democrats seem poised to repeat the depressing spectacle of the 2019 legislative session: allow Republicans to stage a walkout without any negative consequences, after which the cap-and-trade bill will be shelved until 2021 as the Earth continues to warm dangerously.
Everybody has their own way of coping with anxiety. I don't claim that my approach to dealing with the worries I've just enumerated are any sort of universal worry-salve. These are simply some of the things I try to keep in mind when progressive nightmares haunt me.
Everything changes. No one can know what will happen in the next 24 hours, much less between now and election day in November, or now and the ending of the short Oregon legislative session in early March. Surprises are going to be plentiful. They're as likely to be progressive-friendly as the reverse. So let's enjoy surfing the wave of political change and hope we progressives don't wipe out.
Negativity is a human predilection. Most people, me included for sure, find it easier to visualize bad things happening than good things. In early human history worriers who feared that the rustle in the brush was a saber-toothed tiger fared better in the evolutionary sweepstakes than the optimists who thought it was just the wind. Thus it's psychologically likely that many or most of my political anxieties aren't going to come to pass, or will be less extreme than I expect.
Life is much grander than the latest headlines. I'm a news junkie. But often I stick the most recent issue of TIME or The New Yorker in a drawer and don't get around to reading it for weeks, or even months sometimes. Then I skip much of the issue, because what was so important then, isn't now. Other things are. And rarely do either the old things or the new things impact my daily life, which exists on a different level than national, state, or local politics.
Close to home, progress is always possible. While progressive anxieties tend to skew nationally, obviously the best ability to produce positive progressive outcomes is at the local level, right here in Salem. Yesterday I got to hear Virginia Stapleton speak about why she's running to replace retiring Ward 1 city councilor Cara Kaser. Stapleton was so sincere, eloquent, inspiring, and persuasive, listening to her raised my progressive spirits. A lot.
The way Democratic primaries work, Oregon is going to have little say in who the Dem presidential nominee is going to be once our May election rolls around. All we'll be able to do is passively watch other states vote (or, in the case of Iowa, screw up voting).
But when I contributed some money to the campaigns of three progressive Salem City Council candidates about a week ago, I felt really good about playing a small role in what hopefully will be the victories of Virginia Stapleton, Vanessa Nordyke, and Trevor Phillips.
Doing something concrete to aid local progressive causes wasn't exactly a cure for my above-mentioned anxieties about national and state politics. However, it definitely alleviated some of the symptoms. Here's links to the web sites of Stapleton, Nordyke, and Phillips if you feel like doing some healing yourself.