Old America vs New America

June 14, 2008

Peggy Noonan writes an interesting analysis of this year’s presidential¬†campaign. The first several paragraphs are just about difficulties Barack Obama and John McCain have had this week. But then she describes this year’s campaign as a contest between the Old America, represented by McCain, and the New America, represented by Obama.

“In the Old America, love of country was natural. You breathed it in. You either loved it or knew you should.

In the New America, love of country is a decision. It’s one you make after weighing the pros and cons. What you breathe in is skepticism and a heightened appreciation of the global view.

Old America: Tradition is a guide in human affairs. New America: Tradition is a challenge, a barrier, or a lovely antique.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Two lefties running for president

June 6, 2008

Two southpaws, that is. I dislike using the term lefty as a political label, partly because I have most often heard it used in a derogatory sense (e.g. “loony lefty”), and also because the label – like any label – assumes that people fit in neat pigeonholes such as left and right.

It’s much easier to pigeonhole people by their¬†“handedness,” of course. Most people are unabashedly and unalterably right-handed. Very few are truly ambidextrous. (There also are “mixed-handed” people who use one hand for some activities and the other hand for others, but as they are generally categorized by which hand they write with, there are no clear statistics as to how prevalent they are.)

Then there are us lefties – depending on whose statistics you go by, somewhere between 8% and 15% of the population. They make up a much higher percentage of recent presidents however – at least three of the last six, four if you count Reagan (some claim that he switched from left- to right-handed when he was young).

And as it seems highly unlikely that our 44th president will be anyone other than John McCain or Barack Obama, that will be one more lefty to add to the growing list. Naturally this is fueling renewed speculation as to why more lefties are ending up in the Oval Office.

Read the rest of this entry »

The limitations of hatred

May 2, 2008

I haven’t been following the news regarding Rev. Jeremiah Wright all that closely¬†(though I could hardly be unaware of it, especially as it keeps coming up in the blogs I read every day, Significant Pursuit and World on the Web). Partly this is because I was not interested in voting for Barack Obama to begin with, and also because – as with most big news stories – we’ll continue to learn more about it and be better able to evaluate it as the picture becomes more clear. Breaking news stories hardly ever give as good a perspective as the analysis that follows weeks or months later.

I also feel somewhat inadequate to have an informed opinion on the whole matter, as I am not African American, nor do I know anyone well who is. (The town we live in attracts lots of Mexican immigrants, but the African Americans gravitate to the Quad Cities half an hour away, where there is a larger black population.) We have a number of Africans at our church (though in a congregation of over 1000, fifty Africans are still a small minority), and while many of them may well be descendents of American slaves (see the history of Liberia), their experiences are vastly different from most African Americans in this country.

Read the rest of this entry »