I am watching 60 Minutes. The host is having a conversation with the “brain trust” of President-elect Obama's presidential campaign. It's hard for me not to notice that they are all white people. Amusing considering that a few minutes before I was watching a C-Span panel of Newsweek reporters and the one African American reporter made a similar observation about the Obama campaign. Yes, I watch C-Span. It's a dirty little secret; tell no one.
I experienced a tiny second of indignation, but then realized something: Presidential politics have always been a game for white people. The players and the participants have always been white people. Why should Obama's campaign have been any different? Who better understands the machinations and nuances of presidential campaigns than those who have always been the primary players? Be that as it may, I hope that once President-elect Obama becomes President Obama he will indeed make a worthwhile effort to introduce qualified minority candidates into the upper echelon of our nation's government. I am not talking about a sprinkling of cronies throughout the Executive Branch (I think we've seen enough of that over the last eight years), but a cabinet which can continue to inspire citizens. President-elect Obama's election has elicited so many statements from African Americans interviewed, statements of hope. I recall several who have been interviewed saying things such as, “Now I can tell my son/daughter that you can be anything, including president.” It's nice to be able to say, but why should we not have a young minority child whose parents say to him or her, “You can be anything you want, including president, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Secretary of State, or UN Ambassador to whatever country is most in need of a brave advocate.” It's still so very early and the beginning of President Obama's forthcoming historic presidency is over seventy days away. I have placed the countdown in my cell phone! We shall see what happens.
Accompanying all of the news about President-elect Obama there have been numerous stories about the supposed downfall of the Republican party and what it needs to do to rejuvenate itself and regain its lost stature. It's ridiculous. Do we really need echoes of Palin 2012 to mar our nation's (the world's!) newfound sense that the once sinking ship of democracy may possibly sail again? I'm not a Republican. That goes without saying. However, that doesn't mean I wouldn't bring myself to vote for a Republican (Lincoln and TR come to mind). I'm issues-oriented. Speak to me about your stance on the concerns I feel are essential to our nation's identity and vitality. If you can speak to me from the abstract and point me to specifics and convince me that your plan will bring broad opportunities, I will listen to you. I don't care if you like donkeys or elephants or trees. To be quite frank, I'd love to see a diversification of parties in this country. I find it remarkable that a country which purports to value competition is so frightened by the prospect of political competition. A genuine, vibrant, and robust democracy is best served by a true marketplace of ideas, and ladies and germs, good ideas can come from outside of traditional parties. But most of us know that.
If Republicans are serious about remaining relevant they will indeed be required to take a long, hard look at their positions and what kind of political entity they want to be for people in the coming decades. I don't often agree with the pundits, but I must say that I find myself agreeing with their contention that on some level the election of President-elect Obama is a resounding repudiation of the divisive, below-the-belt politics which were the specialty of the Atwater-Rove-Bush conservatives. (Quick useless plug. Frontline will be airing what looks to be a fantastic episode about Lee Atwater and the world he wrought. Check it out on Tuesday! Frontline is my favorite PBS show. Any potential love interest would be required to snuggle up with wine and Frontline. Now you know one of the many reasons why I am single.) With exceptions, citizens are tired of irrelevant conversations. We want candidates who will respect our intelligence and engage us on a more sophisticated level. If the Republican party is more concerned about selecting candidates on the basis of their ability to field dress a moose and spout off a “Golly Gee” here and there, they are losing sight of what quite a few of us expect from our leaders.
When I go to the polls, I don't want to elect someone who's an Everyman/Everywoman. I want someone whose name will rightly grace my country's history books. I want someone who believed they could lead on the basis of their ideas and because their expectations for our nation were high. I want to cast my vote for someone who recognizes that the democratic experiment cannot be perfected in any lifetime, but that the experiment is an ongoing journey which will require the engagement of its citizens. And while we as citizens may disagree about our priorities, disperse into opposing camps after disagreement, and often deny our responsibilities after we agree to disagree, we are still in it together. I believe that. I do. E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. So, I guess unless Republicans can find a way to avoid initiating acidic discourse and recognize public service as a noble plight, they will continue to lose ground. Unless Republicans (or any public servant) can acknowledge the hypocrisy of their ways, they will not be asked to do what Bill Clinton called “the people's work.” To my way of thinking, calling for 'Limited Government' whilst doling out BILLIONS to Wall Street is in no way emblematic of limited government. Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times put it best. We have witnessed a government eager to “socialize losses and privatize gains” and that is not in the interest of the whole. And don't get me started on the auto industry. Maybe, just maybe, if the Big Three had not been putting all of their damn money into inefficient fuel whores, they would not be facing insolvency. Gas prices may be down, but the problem of energy independence and climate change has not gone away. Any aid to the auto industry needs to come with a quid pro quo which leads to US built hybrids and a move away from SUVs. (I would like to see a diminished car culture, but I'm realistic.)
I am reacquainting myself with my inner-politico. I have always been fascinated by questions of policy and considering the tenor of our times of late, I can't really help but write about it and wonder what it will mean for us. It's either write about this or that other . . . stuff that plagues me. And I'm sure my two devoted readers don't won't to hear about me.