There is a quote by Eric Hoffer: “Power corrupts the few, but weakness corrupts the many.”
How true. You can see this principle operating right now in the American political landscape. My politics lean left; I’ve been a liberal progressive my entire adult life. Right-wing conservatives are not my favorite people (although there are some in my own family, and I love them anyway.) But when I think of weakness corrupting the many, liberals are the ones I think of.
Many of us worked hard and argued hard during the 2008 campaign, to get President Obama elected. Then we celebrated. We won! And then we went back to our own lives, so Obama could get on with the job of saving us.
Trying to sound like adults, we admitted that he had a pretty big job, and it might take him a little time to accomplish fixing all the problems he had inherited, problems that had been accumulating for the past thirty years or so. We gave him about a month. Then we started acting like the children we really were.
It’s like we’re all on a cross-country car trip. We’re traveling from Los Angeles to New York. Obama is in the front seat – no one else wants to sit up there with the boring grown-ups. We’re all in the back seat, crowded together and all talking at once.
The right-wing conservatives and Republicans are not in the car with us. They are outside trying to sabotage the trip – they’re putting up phony road signs (Watch out for Death Panels!); strewing nails across the road to puncture our tires; throwing rocks at our brake lights so the Highway Patrol will pick us up (they’ve alerted the Highway Patrol that we’re coming); and trying to shut down the freeways with filibusters.
They’re a pain, but the liberals in the back seat of the car have them beat. Before we even get to the California/Nevada border, they are whining because we haven’t gone far enough or fast enough. And yet, “I wanna see the Grand Canyon, can we stop?” squeal some of them, while others ask “Why are we going southeast through New Mexico? We should go North first, then East,” and others demand “Slow down, we’re missing the important scenery,” yet others screech “Speed up, we’re not gonna get there on time.” Many of them pout “I told you we should have taken the plane!” And every single one of them whines, “Are we there yet?”
And when we’re told no, we’re not there yet, we still have a long way to go, we get mad and want to get out of the car. “We’re getting another driver!” we threaten, ignoring the fact that there are no other drivers around, except Republicans.
You know, I wouldn’t blame Obama if he just stopped the car, got out, and walked home by himself, saying “Find your own damn way!”
But he can’t do that because he knows we couldn’t do it. We’d go nowhere because we’d be too busy arguing, whining, crying and throwing temper tantrums.
And since the stakes are the preservation not only of our country, but our planet, we better hope he doesn’t desert us.
Now here’s a thought: maybe we should try to help him instead.
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