the first step to recovery.

This is so cliche.

The past–what, now–year I’ve waffled back and forth between typical left political righteous indignation, and twenty-something overdone apathy. The whole primary-season fever never really hit me before this election cycle. Previously it has felt borderline ridiculous to send ourselves into a tizzy between candidates within the same political party. I suppose that is basically indicative of the significant weaknesses in our two-party system, the results of which pans out to be a matter of semantics and the equivalent of a bar fight–only in suits and on really nice carpet: basically no one remembers what we’re fighting about, or who said what first.

But now that the primaries seem over (admit it, Hills, it was over a while ago), I can show my cards. (It reminds my of watching sports with my dad when I was younger. He would ask me–who are you rooting for. And I, ignoring his lazy grammar, would respond: I’ll tell you when it’s over.). I started off a rather lackluster Edwards supporter. Mostly because of his looks, but also because of his stubborn focus on poverty in the US, I suppose he made me nostalgic for a campaign about which I’ve only read (and watched some black-and-white footage)–Bobby Kennedy. The assassination, and consequent end of Kennedy’s 1968 campaign, from all that I can gather (with the disadvantage of not having actually lived through it), marked a significant change in U.S. politics and its social climate. Thurston Clarke is excerpted in the previous issue of Vanity Fair, and the article is amazing–long, but amazing. In it, he quotes John J. Lindsay, a Newsweek reporter, on the RFK campaign trail, who said: “the reason [he’s not going to go all the way] is that somebody is going to shoot him. I know it and you know it. Just as sure as we’re sitting here somebody is going to shoot him. He’s out there now waiting for him And, please God, I don’t think we’ll have a country after it.”

I think we’re still trying to get our country back. And I pray to God that might actually start to happen.

The cover story in the current (June) issue of Esquire (yes, I said Esquire. Actually, go get this issue and read the whole thing; it’s that good.). I’ve already read the article thrice. I felt like, finally, someone is talking about Obama in a way that resonates. Here is a candidate that looks, sounds, and seems like the answer to the devastation and desperation we’re in–or denying we’re in. But, yet the cynic (from whose p.o.v. Pierce writes) wonders if it’s all just too good to be true. The problem with Obama–with all the candidates, really–but especially with Obama, who preaches of truth and hope and unity, is that he offers ‘absolution without confession’. The situation we’ve found ourselves in, with war, oil, energy, food, hunger, poverty didn’t just happen to us. We–our nation, our policies, our complicity–has gotten us here, and we’re not going to get out of it–not in any permanent sense of solution–without making real change. Not just change in administration, but real change in attitude, in lifestyle, in consumption, in perspective. And Obama can talk of change, but again with PIerce’s admonition that we cannot have absolution without confession.

The cynic doesn’t want to despair. The cynic doesn’t want to give up. (And here I’m just going to retype from Pierce’s article) :

Most of the damage was in plain sight in 2004, when Barack Obama became a political star by giving a speech in which he told America what a great country it was, and what great people were in it, and then the country went out and reelected George W. Bush anyway.

And so the cynic wants to believe. But after eight years (or four decades, depending on your scope of history), we need convincing:

Convince me that I’m wrong. Convince me that there’s enough left that’s worth saving. Convince me that there are enough people left who care enough to save it.

(apologies to those of you that already read this with some editing errors)

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2 thoughts on “the first step to recovery.

  1. Thanks for writing this, Meredith. I still need to read the Esquire article …

    Maybe a presidential candidate has no choice but to offer “absolution without confession.” I mean, *I* would vote for somebody who said that we need to atone for our national sins, but even people in the church are trying to remove everything penitential from liturgies. People just don’t like being reminded of their sins. So even our most visionary public figures are forced to promise to change the greatest and most virtuous nation that has ever been, quote unquote. And Barack himself has already been lambasted for his “pessimistic view of America.” Sheesh.

  2. Oh, m-holla. This post resonates.

    I watched some A&E special on RFK a few weeks ago and I agree: how odd that we should be nostalgic for something we never lived through. But at the same time, aren’t we all nostalgic for hope? We feel like it existed at one point in our lives but was taken away. Because we’re cynics we come to terms with that. Because we’re human we keep looking.

    I love my people who put any faith in our country. I haven’t arrived there yet if I ever arrive there at all. But again, I’m a crazy hippie. I’ma gonna go paint a sunset with my toes.

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