Thursday, September 4, 2008

What you are/what you say

I'm tired of this election now. I recognize that politics is a dirty game. I do. But I'm so everlastingly tired of hearing people call one another idiots, of dividing the electorate into factions as a distraction from just how bad our current situation is, in regard to:
  • the economy
  • the environment
  • our relationship to other countries, and especially
  • the state of public discourse and our national ability to act with integrity about matters of conscience: justice, torture, poverty, health care.
Palin's speech last night does not inspire my confidence that the level of public discourse is going to rise any time soon. Nor does the reactive discussion in my office this morning, coming from the other "side." Obama's going to need a lot of intestinal fortitude to stay on the comparative high road of choosing to inspire rather than scare. I pray that he might do so, despite the temptation to lob mudballs back at 'em, because it's the first whiff of something real and transformative that I've found in electoral politics lately.

Too simplistic, you say? Is it naive to hope that our national leaders can act with civility, soberly addressing the issues of our time? Maybe. But what's the compelling case to spend our energy attacking one another instead of the problems we share? We have eight years' evidence of the result of that kind of politics, that mindset...maybe as many as sixteen. Where is the leadership that summons the "better angels of our nature," to whom Abraham Lincoln alluded?

I'll take my chances with the Obama ticket, thank you. He rightly pointed out in his speech to the Democratic convention that we can disagree without attacking one another. It seems to me that Obama might just be the leader I've been waiting for, with the quiet confidence to just lead, more answerable to the better angels of his/her own nature than the debasing devils of anger and fear on his/her shoulder. Emerson said,

What you are shouts so loud in my ears that I cannot hear what you say.

Makes it hard to take a lot of today's political rhetoric seriously.

I long for a leader who will ask me to be a better citizen, not someone who will play to my baser instincts. I long for a leader who will hold him/herself, as well as all his/her direct reports, to that same standard.

Wouldn't that be exciting?

4 comments:

Chorus said...

YES! We long for it north of the border too...

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Yes, I agree, and yes it would be exciting.

Diane Wood Sponheim said...

Thak you for this thoughtful post. I compeletly agree. Something inside me died last night when Guliani was sniggering about Obama's experience as a community organizer ... throwing that around as if it is laughable. Argh. I, too, pray and pray that the high road will continue to be taken by Obama & Biden. We must not stoop to this desperate behavior. America, we are better than that.

aka The Swandive said...

Lord, hear our prayer.