Politics are frustrating. Sometimes, they can be enraging, especially to people on the losing side. When things don’t go our way, we naturally get angry, and this can motivate us to fight harder to get our way next time. However, this sets a dangerous trap. If left unchecked, anger actually sabotages our efforts and even leads us to betray our own principles.
This election cycle is defined by anger, particularly on the right side of the political aisle. Anger against the Obama administration’s agenda and perceived betrayals from the Republican “Establishment” drove voters away from more traditional candidates. Many big names in right-wing media tapped into and cultivated this anger. The right has long lamented how the “mainstream media” has undercut its efforts through biased reporting, and this year, with Obama’s presidency ending and the GOP in control of congress, was supposed to be the time to strike back.
The result of all this anger? Hillary Clinton polling +5.4 nationally (according to the RCP average).
Being in a constant stage of outrage has done the conservative movement much more harm than good. Not because people shouldn’t ever get angry about things, but because constantly looking for things to be angry about leads people to accept things that aren’t true. One such accepted refrain was that the GOP “caved” to Obama’s agenda. As Charles C. W. Cooke argued in May, the GOP stopped Obamacare from being even worse than it was, prevented carbon tax or cap-and-trade legislation, and protected “right to work” exemptions and gun rights. Unfortunately, the prevailing narrative ignored this and became an unstoppable tide of blind rage.
This has been a problem brewing for longer than this cycle. The right has been getting angrier and angrier for years, but nothing has changed (except, perhaps, the quality of our presidential nominees).
For the conservative Christian, not only is this cycle of outrage counterproductive, but it is counter-biblical. Anger is an easy temptation for anyone to fall into (this author being no exception), and Scripture repeatedly warns us against its ills. Ephesians 4:31 implores us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice,” James 1:20 warns us, “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires,” and Proverbs 29:11 informs us, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” If allowed to fester, anger makes us foolish and leads us astray from God. This is much more important than any political battle.
Anger is an understandable response to many of the political events happening right now. When it’s the only response, however, it only makes things worse.