-noun. character or conduct that emphasizes practicality.
I have some respect for practicality. You know, a few voices sharing how to impact the big picture, in the way the entire body desires. Instead of all parts walking one foot forward -- one hand is picking the ear, the other is flushing the toilet; the head is mulling over a memory, and the mouth is talking about something else altogether. And the funny thing is, all the parts are really proud of the work they're doing. Look at how kick-ass my toilet flushing is! Did you SEE that shit?! Perhaps this is the burden of the big tent agenda: so many voices, how do they all coalesce? In the end, what do we want?
What do I want?
I want Obama to win. And these recent events disturb me:
1. The New York Times story this week on the Muslims who felt snubbed by the Obama campaign. I think it's probably arguable that being Muslim is not a campaign asset in America right now, while this country fights a "War on Terror" (which includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bugging selected phones and emails, detaining people at Guantanamo prison and probably other sites around the world). The public, with the help of some media and politicians, has conflated the religious and cultural signifiers of Islam with terror -- the most horrific fusion of course was the confusion of the (secular) state of Iraq with a country harboring "weapons of mass destruction." But the mistakes abound, even the great don of national security, John McCain, can't get his facts straight, he's more than once been tripped up over who's Sunni and Shia, and the ever-mysterious Al Qaeda in Iraq. In this climate and what's so odd about the fallout from this NYT story is that it seems to ignore the fact that Barack Hussein Obama is still working to win over the large majority of Americans -- who are white, working class or women. These people, dare I say it, are having to learn to be big enough to not make race or their sores from the previous primary battle an issue. They do not need to be sold that Obama-hearts-the-Muslim-community, if anything, that might be an additional thing they need to get-over. (And, if you're cringing at this notion of selling -- or if you're sad because some people are being snubbed, I would say this: this is about winning, not feeling good. When I was a kid, I sat in class and read about slave masters who were also national leaders and great thinkers and I sat there and thought -- these guys were criminals. But they weren't and they were. They were both. This is the reality that people of color live in every day; the rubber never hits the road; the dream is always at a distance; the good life is really always for someone else. It's a pragmatic reality, not a nice neat one where everything is fair.) Obama is simply being pragmatic about how he is being perceived by the larger public, a public that does not wholly embrace Islam.
2. Mr. Nader. I think the strategy many have taken is to ignore him as a spoiler, who's grown strange in his old age. Aside from the obvious -- that Obama is looking to be president for all people and thus cannot only be an advocate for blacks -- my thinking on his statements this week about Obama -- is that attacking the candidate on grounds of his whiteness or blackness does not help the larger project -- my project -- of having him win. Nader seems to be saying that doing what is required to win is wrong, that as he says, "talking white" or appealing to "white guilt" in his quest to win the White House is wrong. Nader shows here a dis-ease at connecting with the practical skills required to be able to win-over the vast majority of Americans -- who are white.
Further, I'm puzzled by his notion of "white guilt." Perhaps here Nader is projecting his own emotions onto Obama: What might Nader feel guilty about? What does he feel burdened by? The privilege of being a white man, who thinks he can tell a black man how to be black? Do black men tell white men how to best serve the white community? This is an interesting turn and makes the Nader story a larger, more relevant one: There were echoes of this from Don Imus this week, in the sense that the older generation seems un-moored in a way. It is flawed to tell colored people how to act regarding their identity. My uncle is a perfect example of someone who understands this implicitly. We were talking this week and I should add that he's from my mom's side, so he's white, and he said:
"Logan, you know when you were seven, I said to you, 'how was St. Patrick's Day? And you know what you said?"
(I didn't remember.)
"You said, 'I'm not Irish.'" He paused. "Everyone's an expert," he said.
I got his drift. He was saying that until you've lived as a person of color or in a mixed bag family, you really have no right to tell anyone who they are or what they should be. Painful as it may be, that's each individual person's territory. Nader and his like would like distract us from this plain fact.
3. FISA. The Dems caved last week in the House, and this week the Senate tabled the discussion till July, despite some hemming-and-hawing over how bad some feel about warrantless wiretapping. The prolific net-roots people (I guess that's us) in the meantime have been vociferously sticking it to Obama, who wouldn't stand up against his party on the FISA issue, as in this Politico article. There is a kind of synchronicity here: Politico uses the word "jilted", the NYT uses the word "snub", Nader tries to imply Obama has turned away from blacks, all of these voices talk of the guy as if he were at a dance -- instead of trying to win a race. What I like about the FISA issue is that it shows how the Left has put so much on Obama to solve this particular problem, when the real crisis is how ineffective the Democratic leadership has been on the most principle issue: How do we make ourselves safe? How do we live with those we are in conflict with? The Dems, so far, don't have a good alternative -- We're like the hawks, but nicer, they seem to be saying with their actions. Or worse still -- we're really good at fighting with ourselves. Bottom line: Obama is clawing his way to the top of a political culture that is upside down. He's a pragmatist, not a messiah. He has to win in order to make the changes I want. What merit is there in attacking him for his stance on FISA, now? Attack Pelosi and Reid for not framing the issue for what it is: CYA for the telecoms and themselves for peeping into our lives and not protecting our rights.
I wonder, as the rabble devours itself, attacking its own candidate... what's John McCain's doing: probably laughing as he sees the path to victory in November.