Apparently, Barack Obama meant what he said about our politics being too small for our problems.
With job layoffs and new miserable financial statistics being announced every day, how else can we explain the press and some Republicans being endlessly fascinated with the non-connection between between Obama and Blagojevich? How else does one explain the thrashing about of some progressives over the idea of Pastor Rick Warren saying a few minutes of prayer at Obama's inauguration?
The answer is simple; we currently practice a mighty small politics in the United States.
You might not like the idea of Prop 8 supporter Rick Warren anywhere near Washington on January 20th. None of my friends do. This isn't hype; the people who are so bent out of shape about Warren are literally all my friends or people I admire.
Like my comrades, I think Warren is dead wrong on same sex marriage. But the reality is that at the end of 2008, a majority of voters in California agreed with him. A majority of Americans agree with Warren about same sex marriage and many more states have made marriage equality unconstitutional than have ratified it.
So Warren isn't out of the mainstream. He seems to agree broadly with the position of Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton in supporting equal legal rights but not gay marriage. Just to underline this again - I think they are all wrong but I also recognize I'm in the minority on this.
I don't understand how anyone who listened to Obama during the campaign would be shocked that Obama lets Warren give the invocation. It's vintage Obama. It does not signal agreement with Warren's political positions, some of which are clearly at odds with Obama's. Warren isn't making policy or even giving a sermon., He's saying a prayer and then possibly dancing later at some inaugural parties. If anything, it's the possibility of this dancing that should be deeply troubling to all Americans.
Rick Warren felt some of this same heat when he invited Barack Obama to speak at his church on World Aids Day. Conservatives railed against Warren for legitimizing Obama. People with different political opinions aren't supposed to come together in anything but a shouting match.
In a few weeks, Barack Obama will be sworn in as President and be joined by two men leading prayers - Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery. Lowery is the 'dean of the Civil Rights movement', the man who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr. Lowery supports same sex marriage.
There's something bigger at play here and you can't say Obama didn't warn you. He talked about reaching out, about expanding our politics and that crazy bastard actually meant it. Nobody on the left or right quite knows what to make of it. We want to cram Obama into our old, divisive, two toned ideological and political frame and if he doesn't fit, we'll attack him too. Attacking is what we're used to doing.
But in the long run this new politics benefits us all. Ironically, it benefits the minorities and marginalized and ill-treated the most. I know this may be hard for many to see right now but the truth is that this sort of symbol is what America needs. Not seeing just Warren on stage or just Lowery but seeing both of them of there at once
Obama said it in the abstract time and again during the campaign. Now he's showing us. Seeing the things that Pastor Rick Warren and Reverend Joseph Lowery have in common is more important than seeing the things that separate them. America needs to see that. It's a step down the road where a majority of us see the things that straight Americans in love want are the same things that gay Americans in love want, too.
If you are mad about Rick Warren, I'm not attacking you. I understand your anger and I'm not saying it's not justified. But it's all right to let your anger go, too. It doesn't mean surrender, it doesn't mean giving up the struggle for equality.
It means doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. It means winning, right now - because the fight against hate starts whenever you want it, in your own heart. You can win a battle right now by not hating.
Can I get an amen?
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