Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

Anger and Hope

In the fall of 2008 I, and a lot of other people, volunteered for the Obama campaign. I spent many evenings in Philadelphia going door to door in both white neighborhoods and black (for in Philadelphia, as in every city in America, those distinctions still define most neighborhoods). In the latter, some of which I would have feared to enter in other times, I was welcomed with jubilation; in the former, there was less joy but the work seemed more important – for after seven years of a needless and failed war, the collapse of the housing and financial markets, and the worst recession in 70 years, what was driving this campaign was hope – people joining together across racial, ethnic, economic and political boundaries to rebuild America. But there remains a lot of anger in this country – much of it legitimate – and the politics of anger has too often proved stronger than the politics of hope. It enabled the Know Nothing party to take every state office in Massachusetts in 1854; it was the foundation of Nixon’s southern strategy in 1972; and it delivered South Carolina to Newt Gingrich last week. There is a great deal of pressure on Barack Obama to play to that anger, but to do so would betray those he brought together four years ago. Hope is not a sign of weakness, nor anger a sign of strength, and no one can play the anger card like the current group in Congress. If this election is about anger, they win. If it is about hope, we do.

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