Monday, June 2, 2008

The Post I Want to Write

I want to write a post about how wonderful it would be for the United States to elect an African American as president. I want to explain why the symbolic, emotional and world-historical importance of that cannot be overstated.

I want to make the argument that taking this step – making a deliberate decision (vs. an affirmative action) to acknowledge and repair the widest stain on American history and the deepest hole in America’s heart – trumps any other imaginable issue or consideration that might determine one’s vote.

Ask yourself:

What is more tragically central to American history than race? If you’re going to fix America, where else would you start?

Over what other question did we fight a civil war? What made Lincoln our greatest president?

What has ennobled the modern Democratic Party more than its willingness to sacrifice near-term electoral success in order to pursue this essential long-term cause?

And ask yourself: After the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act… the refusal to retreat into racism despite the Southern Strategy… the embrace of diversity during the Clinton administration… and countless other sincere efforts over the past half-century to heal this tear in our collective soul… why would we stop now? Why would we turn away from the first African-American with a realistic shot at crossing the finish line?

I want to write a post about what it would mean to millions of African American kids – what it would mean to their heads and their hearts – to be able to hear “President Obama” uttered every day on television, and written every day in the newspaper and on the Web.

I want to write about what it would mean to many more millions of non-black kids and adults to see this face as their face, as the image of a smart and hopeful and evolved America.

I want to write about what it would mean to literally billions of people across the world to see that same face as the image of the world’s only superpower.

I don’t want to write about the first African American president who proved to be the cause of a failed administration.

I don’t want to write about the gap between an inspiring symbol and a deeply limited and flawed leader, sharing the same body and face.

I don’t want to write about crucial policies and actions that die on the vine because of lack of vision, skill and strength – including strength of character.

I don’t want to write about wars stumbled or forced into because of naiveté and amateurishness.

I don’t want to write about fatal damage to the Democratic Party for a generation to come because we blew it when we were handed all the reins.

I don’t want to write about the increasing embrace by many on the left and in the Democratic Party of vicious misogyny.

Ask yourself:

What is more tragically central to human history than misogyny? What is the darkest black hole at the heart of the struggle between modernism and traditional society? What taboos and violence are most essential to fundamentalists, at home and abroad?

What issues go more to the core of our self-conception as humans than the complex mixture of “feminine” and “masculine” in each of us? What psychoses drive our murderous rage, and how is that rage enacted – and often politicized – across Planet Earth?

What is more dispositive as a genetic fact – race or gender?

What would it mean for more than half the world’s people to hear “Madame President” spoken on television? What would it mean to the hearts and hopes of girls across the entire planet – in places where women are mutilated as a matter of course… in places where they are prohibited from showing their faces in the public square – to see Hillary’s face as the face of America I don’t want to write about irresponsible party leadership that is shallow and stupid enough to abandon fundamental principles when the going gets tough – including the principles that had distinguished it from its opponents.

I don’t want to write about my own party allowing itself to be hijacked by a nasty, narcissistic cult.

I don’t want to feel outraged.

State of play, at the start of June 2008.


speck said...

You are a good writer; you deserve more readers. Your words are my thoughts today. My sadness knows no bounds today. I should have been happy today. Five months ago I would have sworn I'd be happy with this outcome.

Thank you for your honesty.

Common Sense Gram said...

Ditto I got here from a comment at the Confluence. I wll add you to my favorites list.

Falstaff said...

Sorry to be so slow in replying -- and thanks very much to both of you.

It really is a damn shame -- that this wonderful event in American history should have been invaded by such a virulent and overpowering meme. I guess one can try to step back from the drama of the moment, and celebrate both (a) the symbolic triumph of an African American being nominated by a major party and (b) the remarkable emergence of Hillary Clinton -- far beyond what we or, I expect, she knew to be in her -- and what that does for our evolutionary possibilities.

The consolations of philosophy...