Monday, November 10, 2008
I understand the resentment. God knows if John McCain and Sarah Palin had won, I'd've been deeply disappointed and pathologically depressed (as opposed to resentful.) Along with the passage of the gay-hatred bills, it would have said something about our country that I'd have preferred not to know: we are terminally divided. On the other hand, Obama and Biden campaigned on inclusiveness, on the idea that our problems are so great we need everyone on board. Will enough people buy in?
No matter how disappointed or resentful, no matter how much a person dislikes or fears Obama, it seems indisputable that wishing for his failure as President is wishing for the end of America. I believe -- because I felt it myself -- that a great mass of people saw in Barack Obama the possibility of an end to hyperpartisanship, a turning toward governing by problem-solving, where results are what matter, rather than the label attached to them or who takes credit. More than that: I believe that if it doesn't happen now, it'll be too late. I've said it many times before.
The tasks are daunting: shoring up a failing economy, addressing deficits (how, and when), seeking solutions to two wars, finding energy alternatives, fixing education and health care, the environment, illegal immigration, repairing international relations. It's no longer about party power politics. We're on a downward trajectory that threatens our country if not the entire planet. It's not just political rhetoric; it's the end-game. It's hard to doubt it.
I never expected everyone to join hands. I'm not surprised that John Boehner is grousing and that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are screaming. To them, evidently, loss of personal influence is more threatening than the imminent loss of country, and I guess it always will be. But the rest of us, people actually living in the real world, have to hope Barack Obama and his government succeed. Hard as it would have been for me, I'd have hoped the same for John McCain and S.... (I can't say it, but I would have.)
If my house were sliding off the bluff near which it's perched, I'd want rescuers to find a way to shore it up; I wouldn't care what color they were, what brand of machinery they used, what language they spoke, or what they might have said to each other before they showed up. If they pulled it back to safety, I'd be grateful and relieved.
That's the situation in which we find ourselves, except that it's way more complicated: it's not just a war, or just a depression, or just an energy crisis, or just a technology gap. It's all of them and much more, wadded together into a giant pulsating and frightening mass. We simply can't afford the luxury of political posturing, of ill-wishing, of power- and hate-mongering. And that goes for those in and out of power.
At the very least, give the guy a chance. More than that: the times ahead will test, well beyond anything most of us have ever known, the notion of patriotism and sacrifice. The "me, not you" mode of the last eight years (okay, longer than that) will have to go on hold. What we need -- dare I say it -- is "change." Cutting back on energy use, willingness, yes, to share the wealth -- what remains of it -- for as long as it takes to get the economy going again, continually pressuring our politicians to stay on task, to put aside pettiness. A recognition that being in it together is the way it is, not just a slogan.
It will test us all. And it's a simple "pass/fail." No grading on the curve, not any more.