Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Joining the celebration

Well, that was awesome. Despite my built-in distrust of politicians, despite a lifelong cynicsm, despite knowing that the president is a largely symbolic figure whose ability to actually change anything is severely limited -- despite all that, I got the spirit last night, I really do think we've lived through a transformational event, I believe that Obama will bring at least basic competence and intelligence to bear on the government, which alone is a vast improvement. I'm happy that my kids got their wish and that they will grow up believing in the power of potential, hope, and change, and that they won't become cynical too early. I'm so fucking happy that the Bushites will be turned out of office.

The President is a symbol, but symbols are important. We've collectively decided that our symbol should represent youth, intelligence, diversity, hope, and change, rather than fear, small-mindedness, and agression. That is huge.

2 comments:

TGGP said...

Fuck symbolism, it's for morons incapable of thinking about the referent. And who is this "we" paleface?

mtraven said...

Fuck symbolism, it's for morons incapable of thinking about the referent.

We live and die by symbols, especially in politics. To think that symbols are only for morons is an excruciatingly sophomoric form of naivete. Even gorilla band manage their dominance hierarchies by symbolic means.

And who is this "we" paleface?

We the people, dude. Feel free to join in or not.

I have an outline of a whole book I am envisioning on the meaning of "we". Isn't that the central question of politics? A skilled politician is one who can construct a group identity and get people to buy into it. You could see both sides of the recent campaign doing this, but Obama was much better at it. The core of this we is the values I listed in the last paragraph of the post. Regardless of how much you or I can buy into Obama's "we", it's clear that the McCain/Palin "we" was based largely on fear and white rural ethnic identity ("real Americans"). That stuff still has considerable power but not enough (yay) to win an election.