Monday, June 30, 2008

To the political cynics

I saw a movie tonight that is incredibly poorly named but incredibly well done. Amazing Grace -- you'd mix it up with Saving Grace, the story of a widow in an English village who grows hydroponic pot to make money.

It's a political thriller. Amazing Grace refers to the song, apparently written by a slave trader in the eighteenth century. It's the story of William Wilberforce and one of his many achievements in Parliament: the abolition of the slave trade.

It's a true story:

William Wilberforce led the abolition of the slave trade in England; he established the SPCA, the first free education movement, prison reform, child labor protection, and the first national gallery of art. At a time when the English Parliament represented only a tiny fraction of society, the landed fraction, and most seats were not contested.

I would suggest to anyone who is cynical about the power of our elected officials to do good that within any system a person with conviction can succeed. It takes a lot of work. Complaining is not being part of the problem. Working for whatever issues you believe in is the solution.

There's good and bad in all people, and that's why it's important to pay attention to the good in people.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Strawberry season

Today's snacks:

  • Strawberry Special K bar for breakfast
  • Strawberry yogurt-covered pretzels
  • Fresh strawberries (on their own)
  • Strawberry yogurt
  • Fresh strawberries (in a fruit salad)

I do love strawberries.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Framing the discussion

I have so many Hillary topics, but I wanted to write them as analytical, not elegiac. So some brief thoughts before her speech today.

I think, and hope, that Democratic Obama-supporters will finally believe what I have believed, that Hillary is not a vicious, self-interested party-splitter. In the March 17 issue of Time, David Plouffe of the Obama campaign said, "The Clinton campaign strategy is simply going to be to try to run a scorched-earth campaign, which would be catastrophic for the party." I will honor how smart this was: Obama's team demonized Hillary by addressing process rather than content (or by nitpicking). They hoped in fact that the fear of dividing the party would cause voters to choose Obama (because he wasn't the party-divider, Hillary was). And I'm sure in many ways it worked. Certainly this idea was parroted by pundits in the media and in coffee shops.

Once again: I think this was clever. And ironic. In a year when the Democratic candidates rewrote the history books not just on gender and race but on process, Obama's campaign, a campaign whose content invoked hope, figured out how to get the dimension of fear into voter's minds. We Democrats feared that this particular break in process would cause Democrats to lose in November. Even very intelligent Democrats were so frightened that they didn't see the hope embedded in the dual campaign.

Hillary's process has not feared having two candidates who command powerful loyalty. As far as I know, she never accused Obama of splitting the party. (Ironically, and to her detriment, she in fact invoked fear in more traditional ways.) We should never sell her short: Hillary can and will take the loyalty she commands and use it for good. (And I have no doubt, had results gone the other way, that Obama would have used it for good as well.)

I'm sad that Democrats who repeated this fear began to write off Hillary. Listening to her speech to AIPAC on June 4 (in tears), I was reminded that she is a powerful and effective speaker who will absolutely support the party. And, once we hear her speech today (in tears), I look forward to Obama finding another way to run an inspiring campaign on hope and still find any way possible, including fear, to win in November.