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How to Kill the Tea Party

If the Tea Party—or ACORN or the Democratic National Committee or anyone or anything else, for that matter—stays in a perpetual state of heightened negative emotions nothing positive gets accomplished.

The gazelle that flees imaginary lions soon dies of exhaustion. As positive emotions researcher Barbara Frederickson puts it:

when extreme, prolonged, or contextually inappropriate, negative emotions can trigger a wide array of problems for individuals and for society.

Phobias develop out of unchecked fear.

Continuous negative emotions can lead to unhealthy stress levels and compromise the immune system in humans, according to psychologist Ann O’Leary in Psychological Bulletin (1990).

Too much negativity turns off society, too.

When man or beast trumpets his distress signal out of context or after danger has passed, the rest of the pack eventual turns against the noisemaker. We call such creatures “alarmists,” and it’s not a compliment. The boy who cried wolf wasn’t just ignored; he was despised.

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