The politics of power

The presidential race of 2008, the election of Barack Obama and the Democratic takeover in Congress was, in many ways, a counter-revolution. An angry and enlivened electorate buried the RepublicansâÄô now distant vision of their permanent majority. But the 2008 elections were not only a denial of power âÄî they were a rejection of its politics. ThatâÄôs what John McCain, in the waning months of the campaign, failed to understand. Voters chose McCain as the Republican nominee because he stood outside the ideological fray, party affiliation be damned. But McCainâÄôs striking shift to the right contravened this brand of politics. Ironically, pragmatism, not schismatic politics, is what America needs right now to solve the financial crisis, put an end to the wars in the Middle East and restore the Constitution as a document of the people. Obama was not a perfect candidate. His experience was lacking. He disappointingly reneged on his promise to run on public financing. Corporate interests, such as the ethanol lobby, have funded his career no less than any politician. Still, the times called for ObamaâÄôs poised judgment, his policy proposals aimed at serving lower-class and middle-class Americans and his ability to excite the electorate. The nationâÄôs government is nevertheless at the whims of a single party, and thatâÄôs dangerous. Democrats should acknowledge that their takeover was as much a validation of their agenda as it was a repudiation of the calamitous national circumstances fashioned by a party bent on serving a privileged, ideological minority. As the generation inheriting those circumstances, we exhort all political parties to work for the people who elected them and not toward an imposing fantasy of ideological or party revolution that only deepens the absurd divisions which have crippled the nation far too long.