"People get ready, there's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord
People get ready for the train to Jordan
It's picking up passengers from coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board 'em
There's hope for all among those loved the most..."
(Jack, this could be a separate ATF entry given its spiritual and moral tone...)
I'll give you this, Anon:
The way Obama and, frankly, all other politicians use words like "unity" is generally hollow, saccharine, and devoid of heft/substantiality.
Underneath the surface, though, the need for real unity--the need for an urgent and deeply spiritual uniting of persons on some core, foundational levels--is profound.
For me, the supreme tragedy of this election season--the heartbreaking and devastating revelation that really has me sad and sorrowful about the country--is the extent to which a solid third of Americans (perhaps as many as 40 percent) are, as a matter of plain, sober and cerebral analysis, NUTJOBS.
I say that without malice or resentment (up until very recently, I couldn't say so honestly, but now I can). I say it as a political analyst, not as a moral and spiritual being.
As a moral and spiritual being, my heart is wounded and crushed that 1/3 of Americans are so fully for the continuation of war, for the automatic long-term enshrinement of tax cuts, and for harsh treatment of immigrants who have not followed the letter of the law in coming to this country.
I am and have been taken aback this week by the ugly way in which the poster boys and girls of the right wing--Coulter, Limbaugh, DeLay, Ingraham, Dobson, and many, many others--are repudiating McCain and calling him "not a true conservative."
As someone who treated Al Gore in 2000 the way right-wingers are treating McCain now, I feel personally shamed by the level of anger and resentment I carried toward Gore in 2000 (and to Kerry in 2004 after he beat Howard Dean, my guy; Gore was persona non grata inside my heart after he played gutter politics to beat back my candidate, Bill Bradley, in 2000).
I have come to the startling and stunning yet completely undeniable realization that these right-wingers--people whom I have intensely disliked for years, and whose failures have been greatly relished by me and my liberal friends & family members--are, in terms of the patterns and contours of their political (election-based) thinking, are much closer to me than I ever could have appreciated.
Much as I felt the Al Gore of 2000 and the John Kerry of 2004 were betrayers of liberalism (ditto Bill Clinton after the 1994 Republican Revolution), right-wingers now feel that McCain is a traitor to the conservative cause.
So to bring this full circle, unity--REAL unity, the unity that can never be adequately expressed by even a gifted stump orator such as Obama--is about having a heart of compassion for the other, especially the other who stands in entrenched opposition to oneself.
Such a heart and mindset of empathy and compassion--loving your neighbor as yourself, doing for others as they would do unto you--are the cornerstones of good humanity. Accordingly, they lead us to agree on certain fundamentals that were always at the heart of the American ideal, the things that made this country great: equality, universality, freedom, unlimited opportunity, basic civil rights, unfettered self expression as long as it doesn't encroach upon the rights of others.
Unity is a deeply needed value/virtue in America and, for that matter, the world. One simply needs to realize that it's up to us, as Americans, to do the soul searching necessary to bring that about. Politicians will not do it for us.
That's why the right-wing attacks on McCain are so saddening. They reflect a solid third of the country (the solid third that still approves of Bush's job performance) that will demonize a person if s/he strays from marching orders to the slightest extent, including/especially in the defense of illegal immigrants, Iraqis suffering from war, or anyone else who represents THE OTHER.
We need to be unified with all persons, so that THE OTHER ceases to be a part of our vocabularly and, for that matter, our mindset.
That is, ironically, the changing of mythos that Jack has spoken about, and which Obama (albeit on a superficial level that most people can't appreciate) is trying to articulate on the hustings.
Posted by: Matt Zemek | February 08, 2008 at 09:31 AM