Thursday, October 19, 2006


"Idealism is the enemy of politics," says pal Todd. "Of course, you need some idealism, but if you go looking for any kind of perfect candidate or flawless solution, you've completely missed the point. Politics are, by nature, deeply flawed, chaotic, compromised, messy, human systems." "It's a contact sport," says Bill Clinton. "You need to adapt as you're doing battle."

Agreed. The problem here is that it's hard for your average citizen, me for example, to perceive this messy battle in a way that makes much sense. What are the metrics for choosing a leader? Charisma and clarity are the old standby criteria, but do they carry over? Do inspiring candidates and election winners make good navigators of political tsunamis?

We seem to live in an era of "zeroing out" politics. One party gets their moment of power and they do as much as they can to push the agenda in their own court. Then the next party gets into power and they spend their energy trying to undo the damage, to get back to a "zero" mark. Rinse. Repeat. In this climate, progress becomes something very sad: the leftovers we are saddled with, the things that can not be changed in two, four, six or eight years. Is history made of scraps that fall between the cracks while the battling powers try to negate each other?


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