Recently, my son told me he was worried about my stress levels after seeing a photo of me appearing to be screaming at someone. As it turns out, I was leading a chant at a rally and I had to shout at the top of my lungs to be heard by the hundreds of people there.
But it left me wondering how many pictures of an angry-looking me are out there.
Talking to a group of friends who also are community/nonprofit leaders the other day, I was offered one strong piece of advice: You have to have a cool head. You can’t look like the angry, frustrated one. You have to be the one who makes sense.
“Remember President Obama’s reaction when Joe Wilson shouted ‘You lie!’ in the middle of the State of the Union speech?” one of them asked me.
Of course. The president gave Wilson a dirty look and continued on with his speech. Wilson looked like an ass to most of the country. Had Obama engaged him, he would have brought himself down to the level of Wilson’s behavior. Instead he looked, well, presidential.
Anger and vitriol aren’t the best way to get a point across. When you’re the one who’s being reasonable, the other guy tends to just seem angry and/or mean.
The president did it again Tuedsay in his budget speech, when he said he wouldn’t agree to any more tax cuts for the rich while asking the middle and working classes to pay more. He was critical of the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, head of the House Budget Committee.
“There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires,” Mr. Obama said. “There’s nothing courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill. And this is not a vision of the America I know.”
There was no anger, just the promise that he will negotiate when his opponents agree to negotiate in good faith.
Ryan was furious and it showed; members of the Tea Party issued nasty statements, one of them saying they’ll hold bayonets at the backs of the Republicans to strengthen their spines.
What we Progressives need to do is agree to disagree with some people and get on to doing the constructive work that needs to be done. If they want to scream and call us names, that’s fine. We can give them a dirty look and get on with our business.