This blog used to be about debt. Now it's about a few more things. But really, it all comes back to debt. Trust me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

No Fight Left In Us?

As is often the case after a Hillary survival win and moving goal posts via Jedi mind tricks, the whole thing kind of gets into your head and makes you drink some of the toxic clorox spin. Dread has defined the past couple of days.

I know. We're not supposed to get this emotionally involved in, well...anything, according to mental health professionals. Oh well. I'm just trying to recognize my country again. And in the past few months I could do it without squinting.

Anyway, the point of the post: they've gotten into our heads again. I too fear that Obama has been irrevocably damaged. Marc's roundup yesterday morning didn't help either!

But do we have no fight left in us? We are a new, energetic generation. But we are also the self-esteem generation -- i.e. whole institutions and curricula were constructed to make sure we never felt bad about anything.

The point is, maybe a lot of us haven't had to fight for much. Or at least have never allowed ourselves to confront this much uncertainty or disappointment. I've fought to get where I am. But, to be honest, I haven't fought to help anyone else. Or to move a group of people in a different direction.

So anyway, in thinking about Pennsylvania...we have to remember a couple of things. Obama closed the gap considerably. Yes, there is more to overcome. But should we really now acquiesce to the spurious argument that just because he is not winning working class voters in a
Democratic primary, he can't win them in a general election? Clearly his economic policies are markedly different from McCain's -- a contrast he can't make with Clinton (not to mention one she can't make with Obama, which is how the kitchen sink was born). He needs to win
enough of these voters. But he also needs to expand the coalition he has already built -- young people, the educated but disengaged, minorities. Isn't this the awakened electorate the Democrats have been waiting for?

I owe some of this to Andrew Sullivan, who also has recently emerged from doom and gloom. To paraphrase him: this is about whether American society has changed enough to move beyond Rove-Morris bickering. With all due respect to the good people of Pennsylvania, it is not the best place to look for evidence of that shift (I went to school there). As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. Obama's tide will lift working class boats, whether all of them had the good sense to vote for him or not.

But since I wrote Andrew about this, I've also come to see just how profoundly this is a change election. There is an awakened electorate, yes. A realization that American politics and policies are broken, and have already accelerated our long predicted decline. But also a realization that we need to change ourselves. That we need a little more fight in us. That we need to unlearn some of the comfortable truisms of the past 20 years. Just look at the housing market, or the geo-political chaos, or the consequences of unchecked globalization, or global warming and energy inflation stemming from our voracious demand for cheap Chinese goods.

We've been had.

We must come to terms with this: there is no going back to a 90's brand of peace and prosperity. That peace and prosperity came only because we procrastinated on meaningful solutions to problems we knew were festering. We won't get anything close to that prosperity again without first INVITING a period of sacrifice and long term, structural change, both in ourselves and in our government.

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