Mr. Rogers? We’re debating that now?When you live in a blue state, you find yourself agreeing with your neighbors all the time. It can be strange and even surreal to see problems we resolved 20, 30, or 40 years ago being argued heatedly on the national stage. Republicans in DC questioning the value of public broadcasting or education or taking a vote on whether climate change is a thing? Bizarro world.
Then one day you’re on Facebook, and your local friend posts something, and some guy from Reno or Spokane jumps in with some crazy comment. You wonder if you should even say anything. If you do, the trip to insanity begins—an argument that can leave you exhausted largely because it seems so futile.
But there is a point to it all—at least there can be—and that’s the opportunity for what I call The Great Re-Articulation.
Even though it’s been decades since we debated and settled certain matters on the Left Coast, we have to remember it wasn’t settled for people elsewhere. They were not convinced, say, that people deserved equal rights, and the people there still don’t have them.
Out of the blue, you have to convince them that public broadcasting (or public anything) is good for everyone.
Apparently some people out there (the last Republican presidential candidate included) think PBS shouldn’t exist. Views like this can really blindside you and provoke a serious WTF moment for us on the Left Coast. Mr. Rogers? We’re debating that now?
All of a sudden you have to convince them that public broadcasting (or public anything for that matter) is a good thing. The ground we thought we’d gained must be fought over once again—with new arguments.
It’s the new part that’s important.
As stupefying and enraging as these moments are, we have to see them as an opportunity—not to repeat the old arguments, but to revisit them and re-articulate them in the context of today.
I know it’s exhausting. We’d rather retreat to our Left Coast lives and leave the zombie horde alone, but if we completely ignore them, the horde will only grow. For better or worse, these zombies are part of our big American family, and we still have to sit next to them at Thanksgiving. If we take the opportunity to re-articulate our views, who knows? Maybe next Thanksgiving will be tolerable if not entirely welcoming and celebratory. Hey, you can always have welcoming and celebratory back home.