election day 2012

November 6, 2012

It is impossible imagining going to bed tonight with a different president than Obama. I refuse to do it. And maybe I should have posted this earlier, but I didn’t so here it is today. Tony Kushner talking about politics, circa 2003, but the message is just as pertinent:

“Caroline” (his play on civil rights) illustrates one of the ultimate cases in which American democracy achieved something great. I don’t see how anyone can read that history and then turn their back on the system — how anyone can think it’s not important who our justices are, who the president is, who’s in Congress.

These things, these ideas, these decisions, these elections really do transform people’s lives. We’re seeing it now, every day: For gay people, the overturning of the sodomy laws is immensely significant. It’s why I think politics is so extraordinary.

Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.

The system isn’t about ideals. The country doesn’t elect great leaders. It elects fucked-up people who for reasons of ego want to run the world. Then the citizenry makes them become great. FDR was a plutocrat. In a certain sense he wasn’t so different from George W. Bush, and he could have easily been Herbert Hoover, Part II. But he was a smart man, and the working class of America told him that he had to be the person who saved this country. It happened with Lyndon Johnson, too, and it could have happened with Bill Clinton, but we were so relieved after 12 years of Reagan and Bush that we sat back and carped.

I think what one has to do is to ask oneself, “Do you want to have agency in your own time?” If you really believe that it’s your place to leave the world a better place than it was when you arrived, then how do you get the power? In this country, the most powerful country on earth, you get it by voting the right people into power. There are means of getting the power out of the hands of the very rich and the very wicked.

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