Monday, November 03, 2008

You must become as little children...

Vaclav Havel, addressing the newly self-liberated Czechoslovaks at his inaugural on Jan. 1, 1990, was speaking to a nation in circumstances very different from those of the U.S. today. But his wonderment that a nation steeped for decades in a "contaminated moral environment" could renew itself comes to mind again and again as election day approaches:
Where did the young people who never knew another system get their desire for truth, their love of free thought, their political ideas, their civic courage and civic prudence? How did it happen that their parents -- the very generation that had been considered lost -- joined them?
By way of more prosaic explanation, an early prophet of this election cycle (who from the wilderness has willed himself to support McCain), David Frum, wrote in the Financial Times on February 6, 2008:
If they eat right, exercise and wear seatbelts, today's 20-somethings will be voting against George W. Bush deep into the 2060s.
Democracy, thy name is self-correction. Repentence. Atonement. Throw the bums out.

Digging deeper, into American history for an explanation, The New Yorker dared this comparison and its dangerously great expectations:
Obama has returned eloquence to its essential place in American politics. The choice between experience and eloquence is a false one––something that Lincoln, out of office after a single term in Congress, proved in his own campaign of political and national renewal. Obama’s “mere” speeches on everything from the economy and foreign affairs to race have been at the center of his campaign and its success; if he wins, his eloquence will be central to his ability to govern.
Last word to Obama (Jan. 5, ABC debate), daring us to hope:
And, you know, so the truth is actually words do inspire. Words do help people get involved. Words do help members of Congress get into power so that they can be part of a coalition to deliver health care reform, to deliver a bold energy policy. Don't discount that power, because when the American people are determined that something is going to happen, then it happens. And if they are disaffected and cynical and fearful and told that it can't be done, then it doesn't. I'm running for president because I want to tell them, yes, we can. And that's why I think they're responding in such large numbers.

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