Saturday, July 05, 2008

Oh, Grow Up!

I’m stupefied by all this brouhaha about Obama abandoning his stance as a new kind of politician, moving to the middle, flip-flopping on Iraq, pandering to the religious right, going hawk on gun control and the death penalty, blah, blah, blah. What the man is doing is trying to get elected, which he cannot do solely by preaching to the choir. And while I hasten to cite the well-known Emerson quote, “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” I equally hasten to add that Mr. Obama has not been particularly inconsistent. Just because the Republicans chose to label him as “the most liberal” senator doesn’t necessarily make it so – or make it the slur it’s intended to be. The fact is, Obama is a man with a poetic, populist vision of an improved America driven by an engaged, participatory citizenry, and while he eschews business-as-usual politics, he’s by no means a radical and never claimed to be.

Only an idiot (or our present President) would make intractable decisions about how to get us out of Iraq seven months before he can take office. Obama wants us out of there, thinks our being there was and is a bad idea; he hasn’t changed his position on that. As for his championing faith-based social service groups, that’s a sticky wicket to be sure, but the truth is, many of them do an excellent job of addressing practical, everyday problems, as well as devastating emergencies, in a way that secular non-profits and the government have dismally failed to do. For example, it was church groups that really rescued people and communities from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and all along the Gulf Coast. It’s church groups that maintain many efficient food banks, shelters and other useful services from coast to coast. And most of them are not proselytizing as they hand out soup and blankets; many of these people are just trying to live their faith by being of service to others. Those of us who have good liberal reason for disliking and distrusting the religious right should learn to make distinctions between them and other faith-based groups – as well as acknowledge that even people we disagree with are capable of doing worthwhile things.

But the larger, more important reality is that Obama wants to get elected and he genuinely wants to be a conciliator among the many polarized factions of our society. He’s reaching out to populations usually shunned by liberals, because he knows he can’t make peace or find common ground with people if he doesn’t communicate with them and motivate compromise. Obama’s base includes many young people who, consistent with their age, see everything in black & white opposites of good/bad, right/wrong, our side/their side. Maybe Obama isn’t naïve – but they sure are. Did they think their maverick would vanquish the political status quo before he got into a position of power? They should support Obama’s efforts to transcend labels and help all of us to see and respect each other’s humanity – and point of view.

And the media should stop inflating and inflaming every smidgen of potential controversy. This isn’t a soap opera or a competitive reality TV show, this is our country and our future; this is the real thing. It would be unconscionable for the American public to have been subjected to this torturously drawn out campaign only to have the serious substance of it put through a wringer of ignorant assumption and malicious inference. I still don’t know if Barack Obama is for real or not, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and reserve whatever outrage or disappointment I may feel for when we get George Wacko Bush out of the White House, send John McCain packing, and get down to the business of putting this country back together again. For now, we should reject false news and media histrionics with solid facts and intelligent discussion, as well as fairness, patience, a little trust and a lot of common sense. That would truly be a change we can believe in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Potatoland....

I would love to see this blog post sent to every newspaper in the! least the NYT and maybe The Idaho Statesman!!!

You are awesome!!! Send this.....