Give Them Some Space

If, like me, you welcomed the passage of health care reform legislation last night--even if you were wishing for greater reform--you probably wanted to express your joy. If, like a lot of people, you're connected to others through social networks, you probably went there to celebrate, and you might have been surprised/disappointed/upset when you realized that not everyone shared your excitement over this legislation. I wasn't surprised by the reaction so much as I was surprised by some of the people who reacted the way they did.

I wasn't surprised by the reaction because I saw the same reaction less than a year and a half ago when Barack Obama was elected President and conservatives were lashing out. Then, in the post-mortem, when lots of my fellow lefty bloggers were offering what they considered to be sage advice to conservatives, I said we needed to mind our own business. I said we needed to remember what it felt like to be on the losing side and how incensed it made us to have the winners gloating and telling us what we needed to do. And it bears repeating today.

Yes, the reactions coming from conservatives are overwrought. I called out someone last night because he used the word "traitor" to describe House members who voted for the legislation. And in the face of that sort of reaction, it would be easy to gloat, to remember the way it felt to be on the receiving end back in 1994, or 2000, or 2002, or 2004, and to jam it back in their faces. But it would be unwise, and more importantly (to me anyway), it would be unkind.

If you're on Facebook and you see someone you went to grade school with having a really bad day over this legislation, let it slide for now. They're hurting and lashing out. You can be Walter Sobcek or you can be The Dude. Just abide.

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