I haven't been a faithful viewer of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart or its younger sibling The Colbert Report, but every once in a while I'll catch something on one of them that really hits home. Mixing political news with comedy is really healthy, I think, and certainly has made the news easier to stomach on those particularly groan-worthy days.
The other day, Stewart had on a guest author, Mike Huckabee, and his book "From Hope to Higher Ground: 12 Stops to Restoring America's Greatness". If I may paraphrase / butcher his own words, Huckabee is "conservative, but not angry about it". He talked about how our elected officials often get distracted with politics and power at the expense of practical matters, and in so doing are failing at their duties to help their people and their homeland. His passing comment about being conservative but not angry about it was a good light-bulb moment for me.
Politically, I would label myself progressive, if I were to pick one label, and as often as not during the last several years, I've been pretty angry about it. Looking at things practically is much more effective, though, and would let me have less heated and more fruitful arguments.
A good example might be my beef with the restrictions on stem cell research. We could argue about when life begins and the ethics of using of embryonic cells until we're blue in the face, but the reasons I think the research should be given some liberty are actually entirely practical. My wife is type-1 diabetic, and I want us to grow old together. I know and have known several cancer patients. I'm fully aware that stem cell research is no guaranteed silver bullet for magically healing these people, but I think that their lives are worth a great deal of effort in trying to save. We owe it to ourselves and to each other not to dismiss or over-restrict science with this much potential. Now, I have no doubt that practical arguments can be made against my position as well, but I'd rather discuss and weigh those than political and religious arguments; all those seem to accomplish is to stir up anger.
In any case, I have a late New Year's resolution, and that is to be less angry where I could instead be practical. Here's hoping a few politicians give the idea a try, too.