Friday, November 07, 2008

To The Republic For Which It Stands

For those who have been looking for silver linings in Sen Obama's election victory, it has been said (or muttered) that at least the country didn't have to endure riots and post-election anger if Obama had some so close only to have the football snatched away just before he kicked it. For my part, I disagree. There may be some good things about election of Obama, but that is not one of them. In fact, one of the few good consequences of a hypothetical McCain win is the hope that for a substantial part of the million or so Obama fans who gathered in Grant Park on Election Night; the bike messengers, fifth-year college sophomores, and guys who got their city job because their uncle is a supervisor for Streets and San, that they would have rioted for a day or so, and then been so disillusioned with the whole political process that they don't participate in it for the next few cycles.

This seems harsh at first glance, but for the good for the health of a republic, in particular ours. Most appreciate that it's good for social harmony that, by voting, people in general can feel they have some influence in public affairs. But even if that's an important part of the story, it's not the whole story. It's also important important that we are governed by citizens, not people at random, or even people who reside here.

Literally speaking, citizenship is a loose thing. In American law, everybody who is born here (among others) gets it. But there's more to it than that. Not everybody has the credibility, the societal capital, the personal means, or the intent to act on behalf of the community as a whole. The Palins clearly have these things, which is (among other reasons) why some of us were so enthused about them.

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