In the present election cycle, we have an interesting mix of historical drama and theater of the absurd. Everything that is meaningful and good, and everything that is ridiculous and sordid, about America and it's people, is evident in the run-up to the 2008 election of a President of the United States.
While watching the recent showing of "John Adams" on HBO, I was moved by the fact that our founding fathers were anything but infallible. In reality, they were painfully human. Oh yes, they were exceptional men in some of their dreams and motivations, but they were also frail men in some of their prejudices and vain pursuits.
Now, we see some of the same qualities in the people running for the White House. Now, we see the same mix of positive dreams and vain motivations. Now, we see the same fallibility, and we know that these three people are all too, painfully, human.
But, we also see something else. We also see a man who has served his country through war, prison camp, and congress. How can any of us deny that this man has earned the right to be called a patriot? How can any of us deny that this man loves his country and would do what he thinks is best for it?
Then we have the young black man. He carries a torch for his people. He also carries a torch for the "better angels of our nature." He carries this torch, not just for black people, but for all of us. How can any of us not be moved by his moment, or believe that he does not embody the ultimate dreams embedded in the Constitution of the United States?
Finally, we have a woman. Perhaps, no one represents the most downtrodden more. Perhaps, no one represents the ultimate promise of the American dream better. Women have carried the man's burden, both black and white, since the beginning of time. How can anyone believe that she would not stand tall as President of the United States?
All of the would-be candidates for the office of president have made mistakes. All of them have shown their human weaknesses. But, all of them have also shown their strengths. All of them have shown that they have what it takes to be President of the United States. And all of them carry the dreams of the people they primarily represent. I believe that they all carry, in their hearts, beyond any hubris, the desire to do what they believe is right for America and the American people. It is up to the American people to decide which of them will do this in the best way.
We are at a crossroads; in our country and in the world. The challenges we will be called upon to face, and meet, are formidable. We will be forced to face them, but, will we be able to meet them? War, poverty, global warming, human rights, international trade: these are no longer issues that one sees on a doomsayers signboard. These are issues that have become present, powerful, and very real problems. These are issues that could destroy our civilization as we know it. And, in truth, civilization, as we know it, will have to change. But, will we change it or will the problems we face change it for us?
I pray that the next President of the United States has the vision, strength, and will to overcome the obstacles that she, or he, will face in the next four to eight years. And there will be no obstacles greater than those manned by the entrenched forces of special interest that now cripple the potential for progressive action in the United States Congress.
The next president will be forced to face the challenge of a jaded congress, and, at the same time, he, or she, will have to face the challenge of an mistrustful world. Only then will the next president be able to begin meeting the challenges I've noted above. This is a tall order, but it is one that must be filled. And it can only be filled by a wise leader, a rightly dedicated congress, and a conscientious people.
We all have dreams of how we would like things to be. Perhaps dreaming of a world, and a future, where we have a president, congress, and people able to face, and meet, the challenges that confront us is an impossible one. Perhaps, the human weaknesses that we all share are too great for us to overcome. Perhaps, the "better angels of our nature" have lost their wings and can no longer fly. Only time will tell if this is so. In the mean time, I believe, it is (as it was for those who founded our flawed but beautiful country) finally up to us.