Peter Sagal on NPR's Need to Know

January 21st, 2011

NPR

Peter Sagal’s advice for Democrats
January 21, 2011

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This week, Republicans in the House of Representatives made good on their promise to vote to repeal health care reform. Democrats in the Senate have vowed to block the new legislation, but one thing is certain: the battle is not over. On this week’s edition of “Just Ask,” our own Peter Sagal is offering some counterintuitive advice to Democrats.

Dear Need to Know:

We’re a political party, and we get beaten all the time. Big things, small things, every time we pick up our head we get it handed to us. How do we finally turn things around and start to win?

Signed,

Dejected Donkey

Dear Dejected:

You don’t want to win. You think you do, but you don’t. You won two years ago, you won everything, and what did that get you? It made you nervous, uneasy, unhappy. There was nobody left to hate, so you went back to hating yourselves.

So now that you’ve been beaten a few times, and it looks like you’re going to get beaten repeatedly for the next two years, you think you want to win. But what you really want to do is fight. And then, having fought, lose nobly. Think about it. What’s more exciting? When your side dominates their side with overwhelming force and veto-proof majorities? No, because then you have to be in charge. You have to be the boss, and everybody hates the boss.

You want to be the rebels, the guerilla army forced into the mountains, the captured spy with the smuggled plans the guy who shouts “Freedom!” while being eviscerated. You want to keep the drama going, to win some victories here and there, but only symbolic ones, that strike fear into the hearts of your enemies but never actually stop them.

And then you want them, in the final act, to absolutely crush you, to scatter your forces and crush your hopes. So that then, in the finale, as you are just about to face the final defeat, all of sudden the very planet itself rises up to fight alongside you! You overcome the filibuster against the Truth and Goodness Act of 2011 with the votes of all the woodland creatures! And everybody’s happy! And you give medals, and you have a big party, and you feel really great … and then, in a couple of months, you’ll be writing to me again.

I got a great idea for your next one. It involves you just giving up and letting them have the Ark of the Covenant. Just wait until they open it.