Earlier this week, the Washington Post had an article, "American paradox: Voters want the anger to stop but can’t stop being angry." It really could have been about anyplace in the United States, but the dateline was from Rochester, Michigan and centered on Elissa Slotkin's campaign against incumbent Mike Bishop for Michigan's 8th Congressional District.
Slotkin is experienced (three tours in Iraq and 14 years working at the CIA, the State Department, and the Pentagon), but a political newcomer. She felt compelled to run for office to address healthcare and economic issues. But in this hyper-partisan climate, she has found it a challenge to reach many of the voters she would like to help.
People are angry, which is understandable because there is plenty to be angry about. But the anger destroys the chance for further communication.
As she campaigns, audiences are often asking her for advice:
"How do you deal with friends and family that are constantly posting things that are not accurate or that go blatantly against what you believe? How do I respond without turning into an angry person that no one wants to be around?"
Slotkin says that campaign events "often feel more like therapy sessions.”
Be nice, but don't be a doormat. Express your feelings, but don't be a jerk about it. Don't compromise your ideals, but be willing to find consensus. Alas, knowing all that and effectively executing it — that's the difficulty. It's at least comforting to know that people like Slotkin are trying to figure it out.
John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.