html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: You're going <i>down</i>, strawmen.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You're going down, strawmen.

These keep distracting me, so I want to put them here.

Sen. Obama is glossing over problems and pretending they don't exist.

No he isn't. Listen to him. He'll describe any policy problem you choose thoroughly and precisely. He understands the causes and effects. But that's not where his attention is, re-hashing problems and figuring out what was unfair when. Past unfairness gets treated by a full airing, by listening and acknowledgement, and it informs our choice of solutions. But it doesn’t stop us from doing something that would work and offers gains to all parties. When Sen. Obama talks about moving forward, he isn’t glossing over the past or pretending that problems don’t exist. He just wants to fix them the only place they can be fixed, from here on out.

Sen. Obama's pretty words and speech-making aren't a plan.

Y'all. You can read Sen. Obama's policy plans in his policy statements. By most accounts, they're solid and much the same as Sen. Clinton's or Edward's. But that's not what you mean. You're all, "hope" and "change" don't happen because of pretty speeches. People keep saying that he is being airy-fairy, head in the clouds, buy the world a Coke and sing in harmony. He’s not. He is methodically following the mediation playbook to address the real problems. It only sounds abstract to you because you aren't familiar with the elements of mediation and you haven’t seen it work. But I have. It isn't that I have secret insight into this guy. Anyone who is trained in mediation sees each techique he uses. Active listening is where you say the emotion and content of both sides back to them. Y'all were all "ooooooooh, what juju did he use in his race speech?!" and I was like, active listening. Refusing to demonize people. Believing that we will live up to the better sides of ourselves. Offering a vision that is better than what people can get without mediation is the heart of his campaign. His emphasis on "what works". He himself is not magic. He is a skilled practioner of an approach that has a ton of power to resolve problems. If you knew that approach, everything he does would look familiar to you.

It is cruel of him to offer a hope that doesn't exist.

Dude. It better exist. Some big scary stuff is coming our way. The rest of the recession. Bringing our troops home from war. Climate change. Rising costs of living. The persistent effects of racism. Three trillion dollars in household debt. The war debt. We get to deal with these simultaneously. That's gonna be awesome. Those are coming and they will be resolved by meeting them and solving them, or they'll be resolved by our people living in poverty. There had better be hope.

That brings me to thoughts on pragmatism. It seems to me that there are a couple different places to be pragmatic. Some people say that pragmatism is admitting that something won't work. Or they accuse me of hopeless idealism, refusing to be pragmatic. This surprises me, because I think I have plenty realistic assessment of what things are really like. Then I figured out that I am pragmatic at a later stage in the game. For me, the first step is a decision that the problem is solvable. This IS solvable, so what will the solution require? That's where the pragmatism comes in. OK, for us to solve climate change will simply require that our population rapidly understand science, decide to change their individual choices of convenience, re-design the American dream, spend a trillion dollars adapting and mitigating our infrastructure and stop treating the natural world as something to dominate. Cool. Is that all? Oh wait! Develop clean cheap energy, too.

It isn't that I have unrealistic ideas about what solving the problem will take. I know perfectly well. It is just that I've skipped the step where people say it can't work. It has to work, because not-working will suck worse. Bad as the solution is, the problem really is worse. So I don't want to hear that kind of "pragmatism". I want to hear how we're going make the next steps happen.

I'm sure I had more. But I'm also sure you've had enough.


Blogger Abby said...

Dude, good 'bama posts. When people whine about his unifier theme being hot air, I want to crawl up a wall (does that count as a genuine feeling expression?). As state senator he got a CRIMINAL RIGHTS bill (in the form of videotaping all interrogations) passed UNANIMOUSLY in the Illinois senate. If that doesn't count as evidence of ability to unite people, I'll eat my hat.

And it is a pretty Audrey Hepburn-like hat. A good thing about living in Australia is that you can wear wonderful floppy hats and not feel silly.

5:11 AM  

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