I posted this almost exactly two years ago, before another important election. It still seems important. The races have changed, but they’re not the main point of this piece.
I ran into another one yesterday. You know them, the ones who say, “Obama isn’t perfect, you know. He’s just not that different from McCain. I mean, I’ll vote for him, but really….”
The next one gets swatted. Hard.
Aside from the fact that anyone with a brain can tell that there are big differences between Obama and McCain–of policy, of personality, of integrity–this statement is totally wrong in one thing. It reeks of cynicism.
This last one didn’t think so. He said, “Don’t confuse realism with cynicism StephanieZ. I do think there’s a legitimate case to be made for picking the lesser of two evils in swing states, but as Chomsky notes one should do so without any illusions.”
The lesser of two evils? If that isn’t cynicism, what is it? It’s certainly not realism.
How is it evil to suggest that more people should have access to affordable health care? How is it evil to say we need to understand the racial divide as a first step to closing it? How is it evil to suggest that our policies abroad are hurtful to the world and need to be changed? How is it evil to say that those who have profited from the last eight years need to help pay for them?
“But he’s not perfect,” I hear. Excuse me, but duh. Of course he isn’t perfect. Neither is the situation he’ll step into in January. Far from it.
Obama isn’t perfect. He’s progress.
Obama and his policies are progress that we desperately need right now. Every moderate to liberal politician we send to D.C. with him is forward motion. Each step we take in pushing those politicians to enact his platform is one step out of the mire.
That’s right. This doesn’t end with the election. We all still have plenty of work to do after that happens. We have to demand the changes we’ve been promised. Some of us will have to suck it up and pay our share where we haven’t been. We have to tell each other that hatred is unacceptable. We have to fight the lies that will be told.
We have to fight the cynicism.
This last piece is critical. We’ve been wandering deeper into the mire for far too long. It will take us years to get out. We’ll get tired. We’ll find it all too easy to say that another hard-fought step toward the edge still puts us in the muck, so what’s the difference? We’ll have all the realism we can handle.
It’s even possible that we’ll forget what the dry land beyond the edge looks like, but we can never dismiss it as an illusion. That way lies cynicism–and the realism of the mire.