Enough with the New Year’s Resolutions. If something was important to you, you would have done it in 2022. The last thing your self-confidence needs is to stare a list of ambitious steps you’ll never take. Below is a better alternative – a list of things to simply stop doing in 2023.
- Fig leafing. The bipartisan epidemic of covering one’s genitals for photo ops ran rampant again in 2022. Maybe if we start a rumor that fig leafing is a secret signal for “groomers” the Republican supermajority will ban it. Whether you are male or female, no one is going to emerge from the scrum at the governor’s bill signing ceremony to kick you in the coin purse or axe wound. Stop it.
- Resulting. It’s tempting to applaud your own brilliance when dumb luck goes your way. For legislators, resulting might mean using a positive outcome (e.g., your lazy, non-fundraising ass got re-elected) as confirmation that your process (e.g., taking up space in the Capitol, being dead weight for your caucus, and hoping outside groups come save you in October) was valid. You should at least sponsor a bill this session to rename a park bench or something. Speaking of “you should” …
- Starting sentences with “You should …” Some of you make a living by giving advice to bosses, clients, and colleagues. Godspeed. For the rest of you: Did the person you’re giving advice to ask for your thoughts? If the answer is no, save your breath. Every single one of us wasted countless hours last year giving unsolicited advice to people who were never going to follow through anyway and didn’t appreciate the suggestions. You think you know best, and maybe you do. But this year just smile, nod, and STFU.
- Selective gynocentrism. Remember when the women of the Missouri Senate saved the day – nay, saved the entire legislative session – in February 2022? What a majestic matriarchal moment it was! The dastardly Conservative Caucus was stymied, impasses suddenly became passable, and every breedable woman within two miles of the Capitol began ovulating in sync. Conundrum: Either women are inherently endowed with civilizing characteristics (empathy, compassion, willingness to set aside their egos for the greater good) or any man can acquire those traits with a simple costume change. Be consistent.
- Assuming negative intent. Not every inquiry from a constituent, state employee or journalist is a “gotcha” question. (Well, the ones from journalists probably are.) If you’re a legislator, someone this session will ask, “Why do you support school vouchers?” Or maybe, “Why do you support Critical Race Theory?” Your reflexive defensiveness and hypersensitivity to their “tone” reveals your ideological insecurity. Start by assuming positive intent and allow people to prove your assumption wrong.
- Pretending to not read the things you read. My favorite thing about St. Louis progressives/socialists is how some pretend to ignore their fellow Democrat @FMFredSTL (Matt Frederick) on Twitter but somehow manage to react to his tweets in real time. I disagree with probably 75% of what @FMFredSTL tweets, and now you’ve got me defending him to a statewide audience. This hurts me more than it hurts you. Now grab your pills and your bottle, go to your room, and think about what you’ve done. Speaking of self-medicating …
- Enabling people who have told you about their addiction. Even on a holiday. Even on a birthday. Even if you really need a photogenic pal of their demographic so you can show social media how “diverse” your “friendships” are. Let’s end the speculation – I’m talking to all ya’ll.
- Avenging fictional crimes. If Jussie Smollett died tomorrow morning of natural causes, I doubt his true friends would wage war upon his 2019 MAGA-hat “assailants.”
- Using “normalizing” to insist upon itself. If the Missouri Legislature had a stock exchange for words, I’d buy shares this month in “normalizing.” Democrats will be accused of normalizing drag shows and grooming. Republicans will be accused of normalizing various -isms and -phobias. As Scott Adams writes in Loserthink: “When people have no compelling arguments for their point of view, they sometimes prefer to jump ahead to the ‘Don’t normalize the behavior’ stage and act like the argument makes itself.” tl;dr: the “normalizing” allegation is a setup to your proof points, not the closing argument. Why shouldn’t we normalize that thing? Be specific.
- Not admitting you were wrong, or too early, or both. As with financial markets, being early in politics means being wrong – at least for a while. Is your ego too big to admit it? For example, in October I suggested that quixotic vanity candidates could use a content creator platform like OnlyFans or Patreon to keep their name ID high between now and their next campaign. Doing so would enable “sponsors” (donors) to fund a political operation outside the prying eyes of the Missouri Ethics Commission. So far, none have taken this step, which proves me wrong. See how easy that was?
Best of luck to each of you in 2023. Above all else, remember: you are not your stump speech.
John Combest began publishing johncombest.com daily in October 2001 to centralize Missouri political news and decentralize truth. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He grew up in Spanish Lake and lives in Chesterfield. His first book, Stalking, Harassment, Internet Trolling: A Guide to Recovering and Rebuilding After Online Attacks is available in paperback and Amazon Kindle on Amazon.com.