Tomorrow is a new year, and as far as I’m concerned, the door can smack 2016 in the ass on its way out.
2016 was hard. I don’t know that it was the worst year ever, but it was much more challenging than I though it would be last January.
Certainly, there have been a lot of years that left me feeling battered and bruised. But the combination of the loss of so many people who have influenced my life, with wild uncertainty of what will come in 2017 has me, and a lot of other people, with our guard up bracing for what comes ahead.
While there’s a lot to be fearful of in the new year. For me, there’s also a sense of resolve that I don’t think I’ve had for some time. So here’s an action plan for 2017.
New Year Action Plan
• The Resistance – The incoming administration is as unpredictable as a live hand grenade. The administration is supported by majorities in the US House and Senate. For Democrats to be effective in the minority, we have to resolve to be unafraid of what we believe in, and push that message relentlessly, like Jason Kander in Missouri. We can learn a lot from his example.
• Build, Build, Build – At the national, state and local levels, Democrats have seen their bench…the group of emerging leaders…crumble. You don’t have to want to run for office to be a part of that bench. You can be a mentor, a volunteer, or a cheerleader for those who do. It takes a lot more than just “desire” to be an effective candidate. Building the infrastructure to support our candidates is the key to building an effective bench. Its the only way to reclaim ground we’ve lost this year, and in the past several years.
• Be Fearless – One thing I see a lot is Democrats who don’t speak out when faced with some truly ignorant bullshit. We must overcome our fear, and make sure the people who spout foolishness know they will not go unchallenged in our presence. You don’t have to be mean or cruel or overly adversarial. You do have to be strong. Be fearless by challenging the reality distortion field with the kind of caring, compassion, and genuine love that you would use to straighten out a good friend, or one of your adult children. It doesn’t matter if they reject you, or attack you again. Your “friends” on Facebook, or at Church aren’t the enemy…the people who seek profit from warping their reality are. Keep them in your sights, and your friends in your hearts.
Take Care of Yourself
Its hard to maintain your resolve when your nerves are frayed and you’re exhausted. Here are some ideas to help keep you from burning out.
• No Molehills – Passion is an integral part of resistance. But passions enflamed can be all consuming. Not every hill is worth dying on. Not every lost battle loses the war. We live in a time where every issue is magnified to one of critical importance. The problem is, if every issue is the lynchpin of the rise or fall of liberalism, progressivism, or the Democratic party, all three will die a thousand deaths. That’s a discouraging trap that our outrage culture fosters. Don’t fall into it. Try to keep some perspective. The war is long and is not lost until the last of us give up hope.
• Tune Out – We live in a world where every move, every tweet, every moment is amplified on TV news and social media/blogs. That can be overwhelming and cause you to lose focus on the big goal. You don’t need to know everything. You don’t need a constant accounting of every shot fired or every injury. When you find yourself obsessing, stop. Take some time away…an hour, a day. Give yourself the space to do what you can, without getting caught up and trapped in what you can’t control.
• Let Go of your Grudges – The election was two months ago. I had hoped this time would heal the divisions on the left, finding common cause to fight together. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to have happened. There’s been a ton of “I told ya so”-isms, many pushed by media outlets, that have maintained or deepened the rifts between the “mainline” and “new” left. I’ve seen friends go nuclear on each other over fights that should have ended in July or August. This has to stop. To be effective, we have to unite behind the fight that’s in front of us, not the battles behind us. We can still agree to disagree, but at this point, no one on our side is gaining anything by holding a grudge. Our division is their strength. Let it go so we can find what’s next instead of fighting over what’s past.
The new year has a lot of immediate challenges ahead. To take them head on we’re going to need strength, resolve and the courage to get over ourselves for the common good.
My hope for you, and for all of us in 2017 is that we can find the resolve, build the strength and marshall the courage to work together to build a movement that will last well beyond the year, and carry us into 2018 and beyond.
Happy New Year!