Monday, June 4, 2007

Bloggers, it's time to lead!

Also posted at My Left Wing and Booman Tribune

I've got a bit of a confession to make. I like the top 40 music from the 80s. Yes, it was fluffy and bouncy and silly, and, as far as artistic quality goes, could probably be considered the junk food of music. But I think it comes down to basic classical conditioning--I was at college getting good grades while still having plenty of time to play. And I was falling in love with the man who is now my husband. So, for me, life was good. And that's part of why songs like "Holding out for a hero" hold a special place in my heart.

The purpose of this essay, however, is to announce  that I am officially not "holding out for a hero" in the 2008 election.

Like a lot of people I know from around the internets, I would love to support Al Gore for president in 2008. I hope he runs. But...more and more it feels bad to ask that of him. Would you get in the snake pit for us, Al? Pretty please?

He's doing some real good right now, spreading the word about global warming, and inspiring people to take action on that issue. While, yeah, I want him to BE president, the truth is that actually running for president in this day and age really sucks. You're under constant scrutiny by 24 hour channels, who never just report the news, but will package you as some "type"--a caricature that bears almost no resemblence to who you really are. They will ignore the substantive things you say, but spend countless hours obsessing about your hair, your weight, or something equally pointless.

And in addition to all of that, there's the nonstop fundraising for months on end. So, he'd have to divert a fair amound of his energies away from global warming in order to be put through the wringer just for the chance to be president. I don't want to do that to Al. I like Al. He's a nice guy.

Of course, the reason I even consider asking such a thing of him is that I'm just not all that impressed with the field so far.

Almost a month ago, I wrote about "prophets and kingmakers", concluding that, while there's more money in the kingmaking gig, that role is not a very good fit for people who are mainly concerned about bringing about positive social change. A couple weeks later, in response to a diary about "the real gatecrashers", it struck me that the big problem with the whole "crashing the gates" model is, in fact, those damn gates.

I never consented to gates.

And it's become really clear to me over the past few years that we're not going to make anything better simply by installing a different group of people inside the castle. Trusting that they will "remember who got them there"--when the truth is, everything changes once they get inside those gates.
So I really take issue with the whole set-up where few are on the inside and many are on the outside. Similarly, one of the main drawbacks to being a "kingmaker" is that somebody is being made king.

I know these are metaphors, but there's something I think we forget too often... When we elect a president, we're not choosing someone to be our boss. We're hiring an employee. So we are the ones who tell them what the job entails, and what characteristics and values we consider most important.

I remember when Jim Wallis came to Columbus last spring, he said something about Martin Luther King that really stuck with me. King never endorsed a candidate for political office, but was able to get candidates to endorse his agenda.

Hell, yeah! That's what we need to be doing, brothers and sisters! We need to take the lead, and anyone who wants to get elected will need to get on board.