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The left needs more passion

As promised, I’m now looking ahead, not back, and hoping to be part of the worldwide left’s refusal to go down without a fight in the face of a Trump-Republican White-House-wash. My first point of order in the war ahead is to encourage the left to do what any winning team has to do in order to win; be passionate.

It’s not just me who is talking about the importance of emotion in politics. Scott Goodstein, a Democrat who worked for Bernie, says Trump’s message was revolting, but his authentic use of social media was a winning campaign strategy because ‘the true power of social media for politicians is unleashed only if they use it to make emotional connections’. Jonathan Freedland makes the point that the centre-left in the UK and the US (and Australia!), too often ‘play nice, sticking to the Queensberry rules – while the right takes the gloves off’.

I agree with Goodstein that the left have to be more authentic. And with Freedland that the left have to take our gloves off. This doesn’t mean we have to be lying, cheating bastards like the right, as we, by our nature, have morals and values which would make it impossible for us to win this way whilst still being authentic versions of ourselves, which by the way, is a key part of glove removal. What we need is to get our emotional, refuse-to-back-down, do-whatever-it-takes, scream-from-the-top-of-our-lungs, never-say-die, passionate mojo back. Frankly, we all know the left cares, a lot, but too often, we’re too polite to show it. This must end.

Here’s a personal anecdote which might help to convince you. I have always been a loud mouth, always told to tone it down, always getting myself into heated exchanges, partaking in twitter wars with anyone and everyone I disagree with. I’m the same when watching football; a friend described me as never taking a backward step. That’s just how I am. I bring this personality to my blogging. It has always bemused me that the posts I write in anger, bashing the keyboard and getting my political frustrations out in less time than it takes to read it, are the most successful. When I say successful, I’m talking quantitatively. I get the most shares, likes, retweets, hits, comments and occasional trending posts, on the posts that I write with the most passion. Often they’re open letters, usually they’re directed at someone who has done something to make me angry. It doesn’t surprise me that people are more likely to share posts they react passionately to. When they are angry, and I’ve described why they’re angry, they share the post to show how angry they are and on and on it goes around and around the angry, outrage-viral-machine. On the other hand, my more eloquent, carefully-researched, analytical, policy-detailed posts most often sink without a trace.

For a long time I thought the rants were a bit of fun, and that the serious stuff was far interesting and beneficial to the audience. But what’s the point of the serious policy analysis if five people read it? What’s the point of being pithy, smart and toning myself down, if no one reacts to it? What’s the point of carefully constructing a fact-laden explanation of why the left are ‘right’ and the right are ‘wrong’ if it’s just yet another piece-of-argument on a wall of arguments that never get seen and ends up getting us nowhere?

More recently, I’ve learned to embrace my ranty self. The rough edges, the anger, the obvious passion, the emotion, the reaction, is what politics is all about. Politics touches lives, it changes lives, it hurts people, it helps people, it saves people, it kills people. The left need to learn this and need to bottle it and need to use it as a political weapon. Authentic, raw, reaction. No more toning it down. No more careful statements, written by committee, with the emotional-pull of a limp-leaf-salad. If you’re angry, show it. If you’re upset, show it. If something the right has done makes you want to scream, then scream. You can do all these things without denigrating others, without calling people names, without swearing (I have trouble with this one), and without losing your dignity. When you show people why you’re angry, they might find, low and behold, they’re angry too. They might take more notice of you than if you’re just politely inserting a list of factual-dot-points into a slush-pile of facts that don’t fit their pre-conceived opinions.

When watching Clinton debate Trump, when he was being a total arsehole the entire time, Clinton stood passively watching, with a strained smile on her face. The biggest reaction we almost saw was a raised eye-brow every now and then. But imagine if every time Trump said something outrageous, every ridiculous statement he made, she reacted. Imagine if she slapped her forehead when he lied, or she put her hands on her hips and glared at him, or she actually laughed in shock and interrupted him as many times as he interrupted her. (Sure, as a woman, she would have been criticised for doing this, just as she is criticised for not doing this, but either way it would have been great to see her reacting, human to human, to show us she cares!).

The left are too careful, too polished, too reliant on facts, too sure they’re right and often, too scared to get into a screaming argument. The left feel morally superior when they take Michelle Obama’s position that ‘we go high when they go low’. There is no reason you can’t go high and scream it from the mountain tops. You care about something happening in politics? Don’t be afraid to show it.

(Yes, this post will too probably sink without a trace, but tune back in soon for a rant, as there’s sure to be a Trump-directed one soon).

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28 comments

  1. Kaye Lee

    That is so very true Victoria. We try to inform when we should try to appeal. We try to correct/convince with reasoned argument and it is taken as elitist wanking. But if that is how your brain is wired, it is hard to stop. I want to learn. I want facts. But you are right that this is not what many want to hear. They want the football team passion and they are most motivated when outraged.

    PS your posts always have a point regardless of how many likes they receive. You still hold the all time record here by a very long way with 430,685 views for the open letter to Frances Abbott (just to reinforce your point – people were pissed off).

  2. kerri

    Thank you for putting this on “paper” Victoria! I have thought for a long time that the left are too polite! Alowing manners to prevent them/us from pointing out the blatant mistruths and obfuscation of the nasty right!
    The left need to be quicker to point out faults in arguments.
    Why is no one taking down Dutton?? Why is no one calling out Hanson’s blatant lies?
    The media are not going to do it so the elected representatives need to!
    But I do agree with Michelle Obama. Although I would put it like this……
    We need to beat them.
    Not join them!

  3. townsvilleblog

    I’m not sure what the Left stands for these days, 20 years ago the Left stood for everyday Australian working peoples living standards, new technology and progressive ideas, however it has been so long since I have heard a Leftist statement from any parliamentarian in Australia on anything the Left used to represent that I had thought that the Left had disappeared.?

  4. Davidbruce

    I just shake my head in disbelief! Do you really believe it makes a difference if the other party in a two-horse race wins? With Trump you will now get American Civil War II, thanks to George Swartz (Soros). With Hillary you will get nuclear WW III.The only winners are the corporations and military contractors. Did you read recently that the DoD can’t account for $6.5 TRILLION. Now that the Clinton Foundation has been declared a huge ponzi scheme by DoJ, will that change anything? BTW when was PC introduced, and by whom?

  5. Trish Corry

    Please don’t ever lose what you call your ranty self and what I have only ever seen as ‘precision and articulate execution.’ You are my favourite blogger to follow. I too agree. I did an article not long ago suggesting Bill needs to get out his megaphone. I said this:

    “We need a bit more of SHOUTY Bill standing up for what is right. Get out there with your megaphone Mr. Shorten and tell the country what a cad Turnbull is for cutting welfare from the most disadvantaged in our society. Shout the Prime Minister down. Shout out to the public that you will stand by us all – for a fair go.”

    The media and the ‘those with hurt feelings on the right’ are trying to tell us to shut up about equality because a man who advocates supremacist views won the US presidency. I say upset them. I say challenge them. I say keep speaking out. I say that is the cue to get even louder.

  6. Ricardo29

    Firstly, I agree with all if the comments above, I like your writing Victoria. Second, about Trish’s suggestion for Bill to get more Shouty.. While i agree, i don’t think he can and there are so many areas where Labor has flipped the bird at us by supporting the Lib/nats that they don’t have any higher moral ground to occupy. Frankly I am looking to Albo, and ome of the others to do the shouty stuff. I dont think Bill has it in him. And finally, yes they, the Left, are too nice. They need to get a bit of mongrel.

  7. Terry2

    How can we demand that Turnbull is brought to heel on the misleading statements he has been making about the so called backpacker tax.

    As noted on Insiders this morning, Turnbull has several times implied that under the Labor suggested 10.5% tax on overseas backpackers earnings, Australian backpackers would actually be paying more tax than overseas guest workers.
    He has completely ignored the fact that the overseas guest worker would be paying tax from the first dollar earned whereas an Australian citizen would have a tax free threshold of $18,200 before they pay any tax.

    Barnaby Joyce has perpetuated the lie as he is obviously embarrassed that the Nationals ever let the Liberal’s proposal, for a 32.5% tax from first dollar, through ; the coalition are now proposing a 19% tax rate with a claw back of backpacker superannuation contributions by taxing them at a rate of 95% tax.

    Labor has been far too soft on this deception and need to hammer the coalition during Question Time next week and for once the media need to start asking some questions on this as it is one of the biggest and nonsensical policy cock-ups that the coalition have wrought in recent times.

  8. Miriam English

    I think cool and calm will be highly valued soon. Hotheads are beginning to cause major problems. A few months into Trump’s “presidency” I think Yanks are going to be longing for calm and reasoned discussion.

    Facts and figures are becoming more important than ever too as we’ve embarked on a new era when malicious individuals are circulating fiction disguised as fact. Note the commenter DavidBruce above was sucked in by a couple of such lies — that George Soros’s name isn’t “Soros”, and that the DoJ found the Clinton Foundation did something wrong. (Astonishingly, the one about the US military losing $6.5 trillion is true!)

    Read a truly horrifying short article about a guy who makes a living telling lies (no, it’s not Trump) and selling it on the internet as news:
    http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/11/17/1600808/-Fake-news-writer-says-he-put-Trump-in-White-House-because-nobody-fact-checks-anything-anymore

    No, I think calm, reasoned, fact-based discussion is becoming not just more important, but absolutely vital. I do agree that dressing it up with things to catch the eye makes sense too though. All the most influential activism is made more effective by that. Comedy is one of the best ways to undress your opponent if they have only bluster.

  9. Kaye Lee

    The low income levy effectively increases the tax free threshold to $20,543. Even if they go over the tax free threshold. the effective tax rate for 18,200 to 37,000 is 0 – 9.7% (excluding medicare levy)

    When you hear them complain about our income tax rates, remember that, for the 87.000 to 180,000 bracket, the effective rate is 22.8 – 30.1%, not the 37% Morrison likes to quote when he’s giving them a tax break.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_Australia

    Just in case they have trouble getting through to the tax dept…..

    PS I don’t know how to pass that information along in a shouty form – that’s my dilemma

  10. Miriam English

    In the interest of facts, I have to say was wrong. It seems George Soros’ parents changed their last name from Schwartz when Hungary was turning increasingly anti-Semitic, however I do wonder why Davidbruce would make a thing out of it unless it’s to imply that there’s something wrong with him being a (non-practising) Jew.

  11. Damo451

    I think it’s hilarious that you lump in the Neo Liberal, bankster, war mongering Hillary with the left.You appear to be drinking too much from the MSM coolaid.
    Try watching TYT, TYT politics, and The Jimmy Dore Show on YouTube if you REALLY want to understand the problems with the Left in America, first clue, the Democrats under the Clintons and Obama are Neo Liberals not the Left.

  12. Kaye Lee

    My pet rabbit would make a better president than Trump and be a shit load less dangerous ( though he does do a mean growl and foot thump at times).

  13. Victoria Rollison

    Thanks for all your kind words 🙂

  14. George Swalwell

    Passionate AND articulate – that’s what we need. We have enough shouters from the Coalition and Hansonites.

    The writer, along with at least one other AIM Network contributor, consistently writes, incorrectly,
    “low and behold” when she/they intend to quote the Biblical/Church phrase “lo! and behold”.
    I take it they are not familiar with the Bible/Church language and are using the phrase from merely
    hearing it, not reading it. Yes, “Lo!” and “Low” sound the same – but low means something quite
    different from “Look and see”.

  15. captainwise

    So it’s fight fire with fire now, just a pity we have to become arsonist like the right.

  16. Wayne Turner

    Great article.

    I especially like this part,that I re-quoted.This part showed that by Clinton’s silence on Trump’s LYING CRAP,it would have come across as “silence endorses what he said”,plus by NOT pointing out the LIES,the ill-informed/ignorant would believe what Trump was saying.

    “When watching Clinton debate Trump, when he was being a total arsehole the entire time, Clinton stood passively watching, with a strained smile on her face.”

    The left has to multi-task – Point out and counter ALL THE LIES and BULLSHIT the right say,don’t ignore them and wrongly assume people will know what’s said is untrue.Point out FACTS too,show passion,personality and don’t take crap from the right.

  17. Kaye Lee

    Do you understand how wearing and soul-destroying that becomes Wayne? The frustration of continually pointing out lies only to have people say bullshit, i believe Pauline and Scott and Barnaby, not some tree hugging leftard.

    I really feel for climate scientists. They must feel like punching people.

  18. Möbius Ecko

    To illustrate what the left is up against I came halfway into a Radio National discussion on the US alliance, Australia’s need to engage our region and the conflict that causes.

    I don’t know who the blatantly right wing interviewee was but he rewrote history, saying every Liberal leader from Menzies to Turnbull did lots of great things to cement Australia’s place in the region, forging friendships and strong alliances. Labor did nothing apparently.

    Worst, the ABC interviewer agreed completely.

  19. crypt0

    i didn’t realize Hillary was a left winger … are you sure about that ???
    If she is, the Left has moved so far to the Right that they are indistinguishable.
    ” Clinton is the Neoconservatives’ best Democratic friend, in favor of every one of Washington’s wars, no matter how foolish, over the last two decades ” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doug-bandow/donald-trumps-unpredictab_b_12526668.html
    So if that’s the Left at work, does it really matter whether the Right or the Left are nominally in control of the US?
    Either way, we get perpetual war.
    In fact until Bernie Sanders appeared, I didn’t realize the US had any left wingers, unions worth a pinch, and so on.
    I suspect Bernie is as close to a left winger as the US is likely to get.
    I remain to be convinced of Hillary’s Left wing credentials.

  20. wam

    a great rant, victoria, a passion you deserve.
    I get so passionate my brain runs well past my mouth or my fingers and regardless of what I actually say or write what I meant is there for me to read but slabs are missing for any poor bastard trying to read or listen..

    I look at labor passion: gillard’s misogyny albo’s no no no, plibersek’s nigel no friends or shorten’s dance?
    look at trunbull’s passion on the 457 which should be all positive labor but shorten’s’passive passion results in trunbull’s win.
    hear karl baby pyne and albo on the shark?? Hear billy, no passion no guts to stir the sunrise/today market. Why?
    Hear cash, the nastiest curving snarl in Australia plibersek should eat her but???
    me and millions did and do every morning 7 days a week from the auto cue journalists who would all fit insiders pro lib stance (did you hear the vehenence of stuchbury today wow what has labor done to him?) back to sam and karl baby their inane blind support for trunbull is seen by millions.

  21. Wayne Turner

    I know Kaye.But the left has to do it.Keep repeating the facts,even after the insults.It’s tiresome cause they will have to do it all the time,such as dealing with close minded ignorant people makes you have to do it.Look at all the repeated BS slogans the right use on repeat,and they get the added bonus of having the MSM not questioning them.

    Finally,I agree Clinton isn’t the left,she’s to the right.Trump far right.My previous post was how Clinton could of handled things better,and of course that applies to the left too.

  22. Harquebus

    The left doesn’t have “to be lying, cheating bastards like the right” but, in my opinion, they are and if they want to “counter bullshit”, they should start by cleaning up their own backyard and stop putting their turds on the ballot.
    Cheers.

  23. stephengb2014

    Harquebus.

    I am politically Left Leaning!

    I am not a “lying cheating bastard”, nor do I put turds on the ballot. Indeed I suspect neither Left or Right leaning voters leave turds on ballots. Clearly you have a vivid iimagination, or simply lying.

  24. Jack Straw

    Harquebus. I think you need to hand yourself into the Police Headquarters for putting your turds into ballot box all these years.You need to come clean and own up to your behaviour. You’ll feel better for it.

  25. Harquebus

    stephengb2014
    In the same way that those on the right are similarly not “lying cheating bastards”?
    I do get your point though and offer my apologies. In relation to “turds”, the slur is in reference to party politicians. A suitable metaphor I think.

    Jack Straw
    They’re not my turds mate.

    Cheers.

  26. OrchidJar

    An interesting perspective, yet one I think misses the point of what’s “needed”.

    Yes, the “left are too careful”, except when they make glaring political errors like privileging identity politics over job growth. That might play well on the prosperous East/West coasts but lost them the election in the Rust Belt. It was only Bill Clinton who saw the danger and was a one man spruiker and pollster on behalf of his neglectful wife and her young crew of campaign mangers who disdained his brand of “out of date” demographics. I mean, what does he know, right?

    Yes, the “left are too polished, too reliant on facts” and that’s a huge problem. What we needed was a grass roots return to basic liberal principles; the instinctive desire for economic equality, the need to speak to people about their most pressing concerns, not about what the ideological flavour of the month is. It’s about the need to respect voters, not take them for granted. Instead the polished, ‘fact-driven” Democratic machine gave us spreadsheets saying that it didn’t matter if they lost Michigan and Pennsylvania, the surge of votes from the “Obama Coalition” would always deliver the shortfall.
    Yeah, right. How’d that work out for you Hillary?
    The Democrats invested in data instead of common political sense and were brutally punished for their hubris.
    Rightly so.

    “too sure they’re right …. The left feel morally superior”.
    To their eternal shame.
    The Democrats just found out what happens when they put aside the economic and social concerns of their Rust Belt constituents and gave them instead a condescending lecture on identity politics and the righteousness of their authoritarian PC crusade.
    It was never going to be a surprise, except to those Dems who had already shut their minds, that calling people who had expressed concerns over radical Islam “Islamophobes”, or people who wondered why the black kids of Baltimore were killing themselves “Racists”, or who believed that women of today have the same opportunities as men “Sexist”, were going to walk away in disgust.
    It shouldn’t have been a surprise.
    I imagine the surprise was that it was.
    Who’da thunk it?

    I’d say that what’s needed here Victoria isn’t necessarily passion but brains and political, ideological, integrity.
    Not much of that here.

    This isn’t about Trump. I don’t think it ever was. This is about what’s going on with the left these past few decades and what it can do, what it must do, to return to those values and practices that saw it take command of the political and social agenda for the benefit of most, most of the time.
    I think any serious look at the voting map of the US will bear that out and anyone who still wants to focus on Trump, or his cabinet, or his immediate policies, as some writers here are doing, is simply ignoring the harsh realities of self reflection and are consigning themselves, fortunately, and the rest of us, unfortunately, to the dustbin.

  27. rob smith

    Yes, the left (for “the left” read what once used to be the Labor Party in Australia) needs to be more aggressive, less measured and show some genuine outrage. Part of the problem for the ALP has been that since Whitlam, no Labor government or opposition has had the guts to be a true Labor Party. Whitlam tried to make up for a generation of conservative government as quickly as possible, to bring Australia out of the 1950’s and into the 1970’s. He and his government did a lot of good and despite conservatives trying to change history and convince people that his government were poor economic managers, the Whitlam government never delivered a deficit, despite having to deal with the first world wide oil crisis and the effects of the end of the Vietnam war among other things.

    Did the ALP decide that rapid and major change, no matter how much it may be needed, was to risky? Did “wise heads” decide that being less leftist and more middle of the road might mean retaining government? Did the apparatchiks and party hacks argue that only by being in government can changes be made, but that retaining government must become the priority? Did that sort of view sadly lead to little change being made and the adoption of watered down policies and big business/Murdoch appeasing policies, which were deemed to be a necessary evil and the price of holding onto power?

    As well as finding a voice and a spine, the ALP,( as the nearest thing we have to a mass support leftist party) needs to rediscover some commitment to true leftist policies. I’d rather an ALP that stands or falls on its commitment to genuine social and environmental policies, than the weak and slowly fading shadow of a Labor Party that it has now become. Damn the opinion polls, damn the Murdoch press,( They hate left wing parties anyway and being a little more right wing won’t make them like you!) damn the shock jocks and make the arguments and call out the lies, over and over and over, until people notice.

    Please ALP, stand for something other than being the small target that won’t frighten the horses, the bit of this and that which doesn’t quite fire up anyone’s imagination or passion…

    (As for the Greens, our other significant left wing party, more talk about your quite good social, educational, taxation, economic and industrial policies please, if you ever want to be anything other than a fringe protest party. I love you, but surely being our conscience, but largely powerless, must be wearing thin. Perhaps target some LNP seats too, as just divvying up a minority of the available house of reps seats with the ALP, isn’t going to defeat the conservatives is it?)

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