The posts over the last couple of weeks have brought a good deal of response, which has been both challenging and gratifying. Much of it has focused on President Obama, and while it may not be representative of the national debate, it is the kind of thoughtful conversation this country should be having. Perhaps unsurprisingly, birthers and Tea Partiers do not seem to regularly follow this blog, and those who write or tell me of their current opposition to Obama are primarily disappointed supporters from four years ago. Republicans of the vanishing moderate breed, they welcomed the alternative of inclusiveness and moderation that Obama offered to eight years of Bush and Cheney’s nose-thumbing partisanship, ruinous wars and financial mismanagement. They were appalled at the emergence of Sarah Palin and what she seemed to signify for their party.
But they are pragmatists, not dreamers, and Obama has not lived up to their expectations, or even their hopes. They cite his poor administrative skills, saying that his lack of executive experience has made him unable to work the system. They think he dropped the ball on Simpson-Bowles.
While I think there is truth to these criticisms, I strongly believe that the vision Obama presented in 2008 remains the best path forward not just for America but for the world. But these are exactly the kinds of disagreements we need to have in this country – a conversation that is both measured and passionate, one that makes each side stronger by the very act of listening to what the other side says. It may not change our minds – and it should not change our principles – but it will surely help us to work together for the common good.