Originally Published: November 5, 2017 5:59 a.m.
It’s really nothing new, some people idolize the guy in the Oval Office while others demonize him. However, our current President is noteworthy in his ability to inspire both fierce loyalty and vein-pulsing indignation.
Beyond the character and personality of the President himself, there are probably a hundred things that influence how people feel about him – party affiliation, urban or rural environment, being an employer or employee, immigrant status, male or female, and the list goes on.
However justified we feel, when our opinion veers into outrage, it’s like wearing glasses with the wrong prescription. When we look through the lens of extreme feelings, it tends to distort what we’re looking at. The person who can detach from being overly gleeful or irrevocably glum about the current state of affairs has a clearer view than the unrepentant partisan and is better able to deal with what can or should happen next.
Here are eight reasons to resist indignation and keep a more even-minded perspective.
1 - Responding to the President’s positions you consider extreme with equally extreme denouncements adds fuel to the fire of controversy. Extreme pronouncements in either direction take focus away from the real concerns (cost of living, their children’s education, planning for retirement) of most Americans, including most of your friends and neighbors.
2 - A highly negative response to a specific provocative action or tweet may take your eye off the ball, so to speak (and may very well be designed to do just that). If you obsess about the big headline items like withdrawing from the Paris Accord, you may miss important but less dramatic actions going on behind the scenes (such as erosion of EPA regulations on industrial pollution).
3 - The President’s nationalist posture challenges the image of America as a country that values diversity and welcomes anyone who works hard. However, if you were surprised by the elements in American culture that buoyed Trump up to the Presidency, you may want to consider who is being excluded at the borders of your own viewpoint.
4 - Strong emotions undermine sober analysis of government actions. A calm explanation of historical context and likely outcomes comes across as rational. In fact, this even-minded approach often underscores by contrast the actions that are clearly destructive or nonsensical.
5 - Allowing antipathy to overtake your thinking isn’t good for your state of mind. Unless you’re able to vent directly at the object of your anger (not just yell at the TV), outrage tends to linger in your mental atmosphere. This darkens your outlook and leads to subjecting friends and family to unwelcome negativity.
6 - Not only does it often result in arguments, armchair philosophizing about current affairs puts too much value on talk and not enough on action. Registering your objections with your elected representatives is bound to be more effective than fuming in private. (On the plus side, the current presidency has reinvigorated active participation in town halls, protests and organized efforts to communicate constituent concerns.)
7 - However unintended or unwelcome, the President’s unusual style is provoking reexamination of long-standing assumptions and norms. The other branches of government should, of course, stand against trashing diplomatic, compassionate and ethical practices. But scrubbing a buildup of less relevant or ineffective initiatives could lead to a more focused and agile government.
8 - Some important concepts simply aren’t partisan. American stature in the world may wax and wane, but our system of government is recognized as exceptional by both progressives and conservatives. Pride in democratic values is shared and can be a basis for finding common ground.