Well, it looks like Hillary is bowing out—actually more like accepting the fact that she can’t win. Polls in that league are realists above all else. I assume we’ll get the inside dope on whatever backroom deals were made in the weeks ahead. Now the healing and reunification of the Democratic Party must begin.
However, before we relegate Hillary to the political graveyard, I want us to stop and reflect on what an incredible process this has been and acknowledge her for her strength and courage. Had the dice fallen slightly differently, she would be the one making gracious overtures to Barack. As it is, we’ll have to wait another season to elect a woman to be our leader, but sooner than later. And we will do that in no small measure to the leadership Hillary has demonstrated (and hopefully will continue to demonstrate) in American and global politics.
There is an old proverb that “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. The theme of this political season, as in seasons gone by, has been change. This proverb is saying that most changes are happening within an historical context and, therefore, are variations of what we expect. Occasionally, we get a different kind of change, the kind of change that transforms the context in which change occurs—breakthroughs.
I am hoping and praying that Obama has what it takes to bring about that transformational kind of change in American politics. By all reports, he is both idealistic enough and tough enough to pull it off. The paradigm in which we live is based on prediction and control, which is why most attempts to change ‘the way it is’ fail—we act based on our predictions (often cynical), which is why we get what we expect—which, in turn, is more evidence for our predictions and being cynical.
This vicious cycle doesn’t just happen in politics—it is the way we relate to everything in our lives, including how we relate to ourselves. If we predict we will ‘slow down’ and then begin to act based on that prediction, we will slow down and play out the cultural patterns we understand and that are familiar even if they aren’t what we say we want.
The more things change, the more they stay the same UNTIL and UNLESS an individual takes a stand for another possibility—the possibility of creating a future that is not predictable and that will call for unprecedented action. I believe Obama is that kind of individual and leader. If each of us can stand for the possibility he brings to American politics, then we can help him be the kind of leader we’ve been waiting for. We can begin to recover our own responsibility for our future and transform our cynicism into a commitment to build a future that we all want and can share with the world.