Sunday, April 6, 2008

How do we restore our political culture from spin to movement, from muddle to purpose?

After spending this week reminded of Martin Luther King, the anniversary of his death, I sought out some food for my mind this weekend. During my usual meanderings through nytimes and cnn and some other, more alternative news sources such as truthout and Democracy Now! - I came across an eloquent op-ed piece from the new york times, written with a clear biblical theme, that discusses his relevance today. I thought it touched on some interesting points and am including my favorite snipit below:

"More than once, the dominant culture has turned history upside down to make itself feel comfortable. And when a civil rights movement rose from the fringe of maids and sharecroppers, making it no longer respectable to defend racial segregation, wounded voices adapted again to curse government as the agent of general calamity. We have painted Dr. King’s era as a time of aimless, unbridled license, with hippies running amok.

The watchword of political discourse has degenerated from “movement” to “spin.” In Dr. King’s era, the word “movement” grew from a personal inspiration into leaps of faith, then from shared discovery and sacrifice into upward struggle, spawning kindred movements until great hosts from Selma to the Berlin Wall literally could feel the movement of history.

Now we have “spin” instead, suggesting that there is no real direction at stake from political debate, nor any consequence except for the players in a game. Such language embraces cynicism by reducing politics to entertainment."

-Taylor Branch

His remarks are echoing in my mind today, and I hope with the coming election that we can put aside the meaningless terms or categories that limit our understanding of politics, move beyond our often assumed understandings of one another, and embrace the system of our government, despite its faults, and force a forward movement.

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