The following post is written by our newest guest blogger, Roger Burt, PhD. Roger is currently the Manager for the “Wendy Rosen for Congress” campaign. He is a long-time Maryland resident, political activist and psychologist, involved in setting up & working in mental health programs in Baltimore County. He brings a different perspective to my blog and provides new insights into the 2012 election cycle.
Van Jones is a co-founder of Rebuild the Dream and is a bright and perceptive person. Recently he commented that in watching President Obama, he was able to see that a president walks a tightrope. In his role, because of diverse forces, he cannot stray too far from the track he must walk on. Jones commented that with the advent of the Tea Party, they had yanked the rope to the right – hard. With the arrival of the Occupy Movement, the young millennials yanked the tightrope back.
Jones’ imagery and his perceptions strike me as exceedingly realistic. He concludes that there must be two sources of power: The presidency is one, but there must also be a movement, although there may be more than one. In this instance, it is the Occupy movement he is referring to. And it cannot be merely a movement. If it is to have real effect, the movement cannot be desultory or without the power of substantive meaning. Of course, in Occupy, we do not yet see a firm or immutable focus. Instead we see energy and meaning which has youth behind it, as they assert their future, although its ramifications are yet to be made clear or, for that matter, the effect they will have. They have clearly changed the dialogue. We are now discussing wealth inequality in a way which did not exist just a short time ago. History will eventually instruct us about what else this movement might mean.
But fundamental importance is found in the existence of a meaningful movement. There must be change and dynamism in a society and not just government alone. What we have to ensure is that the movement is not merely selectively substantive, but directs its energy in behalf of all the citizens.
Many of us are building an alliance with our President, in the movement or movements we support. At the same time, there are critiques being leveled at Obama as if he has not done enough. Do we hear a cry for purity? Purity is not my favorite word. We heard its rattle in crises in South America, as countries and the futures of the people were torn down. Purity is rarely achieved, if it is achievable at all, or even desirable.
On our shores we created a government with checks and balances. Only recently, the checks have been coming from the opposition in the form of immobilization of government. In spite of the tightrope the President must walk, another job he has to manage is overseeing the need for order, to maintain a government against those who would tear it down.
These images make it clear that we all need to tend to the positioning of the tightrope, and tug it in constructive directions, as we assist our President in governing. What is particularly alarming at this time, is that we are seeing people who are not tugging the tightrope in a direction, but are trying to fray it, if not cut it down, entirely. And so, our movement must partly be in defense to those who would destroy it all.
This perspective is essential as we weigh alternatives among ourselves. There is executive authority, and there is the movement or movements of the people. In these things, we achieve order and progress. Thank you for your thoughts, Van Jones. They both, inspire, and direct us.