Politics Can be Ugly

See commentary here. It is conceivable McCain people pretend to be Romney people taking McCain signs.

I don’t despair at the messiness of politics.

First, I’ve learned not to look to politics, especially national affairs, to save the world. That’s right my fellow liberals and Tikkun readers. Especially in democracies requiring compromises between interests and composed of individuals with short horizons (sense of past and future) and attention spans, I don’t expect intelligent policy. Crises are the engine of history in the liberal age. Gandhi, King and any good labor organizer know that a movement has to create a crisis and then offer a solution. The very same solution will rarely garner interest on its own.

I’m skeptical that the US will have a national health plan until a war occurs here or, more likely, a major attack or disaster permanently affects millions of wealthy white people. We stumble into the future. Prudential leadership will hopefully guide us. Obama spoke about this last in late 2006:

Most of the time, it seems, that the president has maybe 10 percent of his agenda set by himself and 90 percent of it set by circumstances. So, you know, an Abraham Lincoln is defined by slavery and the war, FDR defined by the Depression and, and World War II. So I’m not sure that I can categorize what is, is — are those ingredients in each and every circumstance.

But I think, when I think about great presidents, I think about those who transform how we think about ourselves as a country in fundamental ways so that, that, at the end of their tenure, we have looked and said to ours — that’s who we are. And, and our, our — and for me at least, that means that we have a more expansive view of our democracy, that we’ve included more people into the bounty of this country. And, you know, there are circumstances in which, I would argue, Ronald Reagan was a very successful president, even though I did not agree with him on many issues, partly because at the end of his presidency, people, I think, said, “You know what? We can regain our greatness. Individual responsibility and personal responsibility are important.” And they transformed the culture and not simply promoted one or two particular issues. (emphasis mine)

TIKKUN editors have stated this repeatedly, calling for leaders who reach for their highest values, not clever Dems who’ll fake centrism for the general election. I need to think more about the difference between visionary leadership and prudential leadership, in the sense of Aristotle’s phronesis, or Solon’s example.


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