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DEMOCRACY: Government & Politics | October 23, 2004


An E-Mail Exchange with a Democratic Activist

Heading down the stretch of the Presidential election, the poll numbers were turning against us (temporarily); and some activists shared their frustrations with me. I aired their complaints as well as my own among a select group of other activists, which prompted a Democratic leader to tell us to not be demoralized and to take our frustrations out on the other side. I thanked him for his leadership but had to ask the following...

Seriously, for future reference, what would be the best way to deal with a bunch of negative feedback?  I mean, these are influential people, to whom I can't just say, "Buck up, and be positive!"  I can tell from the fact that they're coming forward to me, that they're looking for an understanding ear -- I have to at first say, truthfully, that I understand their complaints; but they're not the type who will just respond to "cheerleading". They've become cynical; idealism (like all the stock slogans) just won't work -- it just makes them all the more depressed.

I've had to deal with people like this all my life. There was a series of articles in the Times several years back about the connection between "creativity" -- including political leadership -- and what they called at the time "manic depression" ("bipolar disorder" is, of course, the new term). Great leaders, like Lincoln, often swing between periods of manic, positive action and times of passive depression. It's been my experience that you have to first sincerely relate to them, then creatively goad or challenge them "back into the fray".

...I would sincerely value your advice in how to motivate the "de-motivated", depressed activist. They're a wonderfully valuable human resource, but they're an often ornery lot.

I guess that's why we Democrats are "donkeys".

A Follow-Up E-Mail

Now I remember how you're supposed to get the attention of a "donkey": You hit him over the head with a...two-by-four!  Isn't that how that old chestnut goes?

As long as everybody is "all riled up" (and no longer sad sacks, cryin' into their whatever), my work here is done.

Like The Thing used to say in the "Fantastic Four" (soon to be a major motion picture), "IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!!"

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