Sunday, January 18, 2009

Making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good

Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien. (The best is the enemy of the good.)
Voltaire (1772)

I, along with millions of other Americans, am captivated by the historic moment that we have before us. The inauguration of the first president of color will take place in just two days. The expectations are incredibly high and these expectations have the hint of a set up, not just from the usual suspects - the right wing zealots who are waiting in the wings to knock this annointed man off his pedestal, but from more unexpected corners - namely those old Hillary supporters who have decided that since their candidate is not taking the oath of office, they are digging in their flats (sensible shoes ;), and choosing not to celebrate this astounding moment in our nation's history. It is such a shame that those who call themselves yellow dog Democrats will not be there to enjoy the fruits of the labor of millions of heretofore like-minded people. I wonder if those Democrats who have little positive to say about Obama, are not guilty of applying the phrase that Voltaire coined over 200 years ago. Are they making the perfect the enemy of the good? And by that I am NOT suggesting that Hillary Clinton was or is a perfect candidate. In fact, she was far from perfect. She mismanaged her money, her campaign staff and her entire campaign. You may wonder why I am fixated on Hillary Clinton, because she has obviously moved on. Then why, oh why, haven't her fans/groupies moved on, too? I don't know how many of you are out there, but I know that some of you who live within a Metro ride of the Mall in DC, are choosing not to bother to go down to see the historic occasion of the swearing in of the 44th president of the U.S.

Change does not happen overnight, nor does it usually happen in one's lifetime, but rather change is an incremental thing, that happens over time. If we are very fortunate, we can sometimes see change materialize out of the ground work that has been laid by an earlier generation. I feel very lucky to witness this historic election of the first person of color to the highest office in the land. This change was brought about on the backs of those fighters, marchers and true patriots who did appeal to the better angels of our nature, those who knew that this country that had enslaved African-Americans and slaughtered Natives and had held women and children as property was better than those atrocious acts. Those fighters knew that one day this country would not continue to deny the right to vote to women and to all people of color. That this country could and would have to change to be the country that it was founded to be - a nation where all people are created equal and are endowed by their creator with the right to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

We are still not there, yet. As Proposition 8 demonstrated to not just California, but to the entire country, gay and lesbian citizens do not have full rights to their happiness, nor has the federal government lived up to its obligations to the Native people of this country who continue to reside in the poorest counties and reservations in this land that was once theirs. We all have a lot of work to do, we must not rest on our laurels, we must continue to work for change, to achieve true equality and justice for all citizens of not just this country, but of this world. Let us go forward and work to make this world the best place it can be for the creatures who inhabit this planet.
Viva Obama! Viva Democracy! Viva la vida!

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