Excerpts from my Journals
[Dated July 29, 2001, 11:09 pm.]
[My father] has become a social and economic conservative, but remains a liberal with regards to class and wealth; he keeps talking about my “cynicism” – but my “cynicism” was born out of the stories of Nixon’s law-breaking and tales of papal corruption he told me when I was younger, and nourished by facts I came onto myself. My “cynicism” is mislabeled as such. I have great pride in my country – at the same time, I cannot in good conscience toast to either, “My country, may she always be right; but my country, right or wrong.” The power of denial is strong – and in everyone’s life, there is the choice between truth and repose. Which is how my father can construe my defenses of Clinton as naive, but my dislike of Bush as cynicism.
I wrote this some time ago; and since this time, my father has come to change his mind on President George W. Bush. But I especially liked this passage because I see similar sentiments to those my father held in 2001 in the anti-Obama backlash. Perhaps it would be better labeled the anti-Obama-supporters backlash. From the right and left, Obama supporters are labeled naive; and from the left, Obama supporters are called out as cynics for allowing their candidate to benefit from attacks on Ms. Clinton – and for attacking Ms. Clinton themselves. Although I am sure that Obama supporters include their share of cynics and their share of the naive, I do not think either group is dominant.
The problem I see is with the critics who assume that you cannot be critical of America and proud of it; who assume that you cannot be hopeful for change and also clear-eyed about power; who assume that a candidate cannot both criticize his opponents and represent a “new politics”. All of us recognize within ourselves the complexity that allows us to be both proud and critical, hopeful and pragmatic – yet we do not acknowledge that complexity within our opponents.