He is now in His Town. Riding the French-Canadian Acela train down the ruins of the East Coast Corridor a perfect political and perhaps unintentional aesthetic gesture. Anyone familiar with that train ride knows full well the Boy King and cameras in his retinue could not look away from unending urban blight, infrastructure decay and economic malaise. Light years from his new courtiers in Potomac, McLean, Great Falls and Bethesda.
The optimism and excitement in the Imperial City are infectious if perhaps shallow. When the Stiftung departs a national book chain, we are asked if we want a bag. Jauntily we toss back, ‘No, let’s save a tree.’ And the 50 something cashier smiles and says ‘Our new president will be saving lots of trees, now.’ Quite. Of course. Change please.
We are not sure what to make of the national day of service on Monday being organized by his Change.gov and companion sites. It gives one hope that Obama’s intention to solidify his ad hoc coalition into a tangible movement is more than lip service. A bottom driven movement that coheres around one or two big ideas would be a blessing for American politics. Self aware, the movement could be taught lessons and learn about failure in time to face the inevitable revanchism of this now fallen regime.
Tapping idealism and youth is a tricky thing. Each age cohort has its own self image and ‘era’. One need not resort to Machiavelli’s job application pamphlet ‘The Prince’ (his Discourses are his true political science analysis) to know the ephemeral loyalty and dependability of either. The nihilism and destructive impulses galvanizing the Warlord’s era are easier to stoke, farm and manipulate. It seems to us that the Administration’s best approach is to marry organized political activity with experiences that unlock a truth of the human condition, we are most fulfilled when we serve others (in whatever capacity or means). The Boy King’s intention to move beyond tired partisanship is laudable. His new cadres should still be imbued with a deep and lasting love of liberal republican democracy and some theory. Otherwise they will stand no chance in the inevitable future showdown.