“Intelligence agencies keep things secret because they often violate the rule of law or of good behavior.” - Julian Assange
Anger does strange things to people’s behavior, but lack of anger does strange things too. The opposite of anger might be joy, but maybe it’s indifference -- a shrug, a meh, a moving along with a “whatever” vibe because you don’t have time for passion and any of the many emotions it elicits. The problem with this shrug-like way of being is that our capacity for anger is essential. It allows us to defend our interests and fight for what we value and believe.
Last week, we talked about the words Trump uses to describe women and also describe his behavior towards them -- looking specifically at how words serve as a bridge between thought and action and therefore create reality. His words made many people very angry and many would argue this was a good thing. The anger brought to light the buried, yet pervasive, issue of misogyny, racism and rape culture in America.
Hillary Clinton understands the power of words all too well, which is undoubtedly at least part of the reason she sought to delete some emails. Wikileaks hacked email releases have revealed words that belied her own unattractive thoughts. Thanks to Wikileaks, we could read her statements on her “public versus private positions,” toleration of Isis funding governments, or read her campaign chairman’s understanding that she had begun to “hate everyday Americans,” along with staffer’s other less than charming sentiments.
While this story enrages politically active conservatives, many people just don’t care about her cunning political persona or her “potential violations” of federal law. It’s politics, it’s business as usual and everyone does it. Maybe it’s even political “locker room talk.”
We’re jaded by politics as a culture and it’s understandable. After all, this is not the first deleted and lost email rodeo. And, of course, before the days of emails, there were hidden “tapes” of phone calls showing crime, and incompetence with high consequence.
But the lack of transparency in politics should be concerning and should make us angry. It made Snowden and Assange angry enough to sacrifice their personal lives to the cause of fighting political oligarchy. Yet most of us are so jaded, or exhausted, by the 24/7 news cycle, especially in election years, that we can’t conjure important emotions about our society and the way it’s run.
We forget to acknowledge that this pervasive, “closed door” way of being in our public servants is affecting our everyday lives directly -- through their dealings with lobbyists and wall street and campaign finance.
Donald Trump’s misogyny and racism is low hanging fruit for our election year anger, but there’s a lot to be angry about, and our anger, as a people, gets things done. Most polls now say it’s unlikely Trump will win the election and you can credit outrage. But if Americans want to see deep rooted political change, if we want to move beyond being jaded and expecting to be disregarded -- seen as dolts for manipulation who can’t “handle” transparency in our government -- then we’re going to have to get angry.
As Assange says, there is hope for change. “There's enormous pressure to harmonize freedom of speech and transparency legislation around the world… with just a little bit of effort, we can shift it one way or the other.”
But we’re going to have to demand that our politicians, our president, be someone who represents the way things should be and uses her words accordingly.