Saturday, February 09, 2008

Yellow lines and dead armadillos

Let me just say this -- I want change in the White House, and I'll be even more happy to herald change if it comes with the first female or the first African-American president. And I'd be more than ecstatic to welcome them both at the same time.

With that said... let me be Eli for second -- irrational, stubborn, and prone to gross generalizations.

I'm realizing lately that I have a VERY high disdain for unrealized leadership potential. Don't have it in you? That's fine. But if you have it in you and don't live up to it, that's bad. Very very bad. Second to this, I have a very low tolerance for inauthenticity.

Ask me my thoughts on Obama, and what you get is actual anger. Not fair really, since I don't know the guy and his stance on the issues is really no different than any other democratic candidate. At the root of my irritation is gay marriage. Like the other Dems, Obama is in the 'separate but equal camp' of supporting civil unions, but as a black man, I expect more from him. What's the point of diversity in the White House, if the diversity of experience doesn't yield a different platform? More to the point, I am not a justice chic and don't champion diversity because a marginalized group deserves it. I champion diversity because the myriad of experiences therein brings a myriad of new perspectives, which has inherent value for reflecting the many different perspectives in our country.

My friend DC tells me that Obama doesn't think the country is ready for a conversation about gay marriage. I thought about this for a while, and my response is: Well tough. The country really wasn't ready for a conversation about civil rights either -- it was tearing itself apart, burning cities, and destroying neighborhoods. But we had it anyway, and we are richer for it. But that's the thing about real change. Its hard and a lot of people will dislike you before you are done. Nobody, NOBODY, takes to real change without a fight.

One of my favorite mantras of all time comes from James Carville, speaking at my alma mater, responding to a question about why Bill Clinton couldn't be more middle of the road about some issue. Carville responded in his best southern drawl, "Son, there ain't nothing in the middle of the road but yellow lines and dead armadillos."

Obama is running on a platform of change. Leaders championing change need to be brave, they need to be bold, and they need to be OK with not being liked. Which is why I question whether any authentic leader championing change can run for a political office. In today's world, a political candidate needs to be liked by the masses and that means plenty of yellow lines and dead armadillos. It rarely means actual change.

1 comment:

Donna said...

I think you are right.