Thursday, January 20, 2011

Honoring Boundless Hearts

Sarge was an idealist, a man of boundless heart, and a hard-headed businessman who from the ground up built a government program—and he was never afraid to call it just that because he disdained anti-government stereotypes—that has become an enduring force for American purpose and compassion, vastly popular at home and around the globe.
George McGovern on Sargent Shriver,  1/19/11

Two years ago today, on the day President Obama was inaugurated, I published the first entry in my blog, Ramona's Voices.  When I woke up that morning I didn't know I was going to launch a blog.  It was only after the events started that I was moved to create one more sounding board where the voices of people I admired might be heard, where their actions could be encouraged and celebrated  (and where the movements of the people who seem bent on destroying the soul of this country could be recorded and exposed).

There was just so much good will floating around that day, mingling with hope and anticipation.  My heart was full.  I saw sunshine ahead; I was sure the dark days were behind us.  It was a day to remember.

Last year, on the first anniversary of the inauguration of both the president and my blog,  I wrote "I'm not ready to write Obama off.  I'm nervous about a lot of what's been coming out of the White House this past year--I admit it.  When I saw Wall Street move in, I chewed my fingers to the nubs.  When Rahm Emmanuel became the head whip-cracker, I felt a distinct shiver up my spine.  And when Barack Obama stopped talking about labor, even as hundreds of thousands of our workers were losing their jobs every month,  I gave up any inclination I might have had to genuflect.
I keep reminding myself that the Good Man took on what amounted to a national nightmare.  There were no easy fixes, and nobody pretended there would be.  But I would have slept better this past year if only I had been able to see the president as a "people person".   Was he ever that?  I don't know.  We might have made him into our own images, taking much needed comfort in an illusion of our own making.  Maybe he is what he is.  But what is he?  After a full year of hosting him in The People's House we're no closer to knowing where he stands, or, more importantly, where he's going.
And yet. . .  And yet.  I trust him"

I knew this anniversary day was coming and that I would want to write about it, but what would I say as I stood beside Obama saying farewell to Year Two, heading into Year Three?  That all of my wishes came true?  That all of my fears were justified?  That nothing much has changed?  That I now know what kind of man my president is?

I can't say any of those things.   I am at times proud of my president, disappointed in him, enraged by his actions or inaction, fearful of the direction he is taking us.

I'm impatient and feeling increasingly impotent as I'm forced to watch more and more jobless citizens give up, more and more home-owners become homeless, more and more of the sick and dying having to give over their lives to insurance company paper-pushers.  I want the wars to end.  I want the corporate giants to finally understand the consequences and do something about their destructive practices.  I want the GOP and certain members of the Democratic Party to fulfill their obligations to the citizenry--the entire citizenry--in a time of unparalleled crisis, and act like a responsible governing body.  I want our president to be a leader of the people.

I want us to be a country of boundless hearts.  I want the people who advocate goodness and mercy to be heard, and not looked on as quaint, anachronistic know-nothings.  There is a place for this kind of talk, just as there is a place for the analyzing and dissection of every political action, left or right.  It all leads to a greater understanding, and possibly real solutions.

As I'm entering Year Three of Ramona's Voices, this is how I view my blog:  It is what it is until it no longer is.  That's the beauty of this dazzling, dizzying world called the Internet(s)--we all have a chance at putting our voices out there.  Distinct and different, interesting or not--it's an equal opportunity world.  The ultimate exercise in free speech.  What's not to love?


  1. I think, after two years, what we have seen is that, more than anything, President Obama has revealed the nation's true character to us. To itself, if you will.

    We are fractious, racist, ignorant, histrionic, belligerent, and naive. We are also calm, inspired, wise, and inclusive.

    And, sadly, I think, we may be too much of all of those at once to be "governable" in any meaningful way.

    Why is it, do you suppose, that the best among us so often bring out the very worst among us? Is it some sort of perverse Tao of extremes?

    I do not doubt that President Obama is a man of deep, genuine conviction, or that he is one of the best minds by far to enter the Oval Office. What I am beginning to question is the institutional framework he places his faith in, to the extent that it has shown itself to be far too vulnerable to sabotage by those who would spend their time seeking out its vulnerabilities, in order to exploit and even attack them.

    And I think I am not alone in believing that there are those in the (not-terribly) loyal opposition that are not sincere, not of good faith, not holding the interests of the nation, of the society, at heart.

    Can we survive this? Will we, since even if we are capable of it, we may at the end lack the desire as a people?

    And if we harbor within our borders so many so opposed to this nation, this society as a whole faring better than the last generation, and not as well as succeeding ones, are we in fact any longer worth preserving?

    I know, I know, so many questions.

    It's what I'm disturbingly good at, isn't it?

  2. Oh, Alan. . .I cannot answer your questions, but your comment is sublime. Many quotables in there. For example, this one:

    "We are fractious, racist, ignorant, histrionic, belligerent, and naive. We are also calm, inspired, wise, and inclusive. And, sadly, I think, we may be too much of all of those at once to be 'governable' in any meaningful way."

    Makes me wonder why you're not writing more of this? It gets lost here and it's so very good. (Are you writing somewhere else? If you are, I would like to follow. . .)

  3. As the third year of "Ramona's Voices" gets underway, following two years of the Obama presidency, I am coming to this blog for the first time.

    It won't be my last.

    Your sincere and eloquent expression of the ups and downs, highs and lows, ins and outs of this historic presidency mirrors many of my own views: sustained optimism in the face of overwhelming disappointment. It's certainly no small irony that the nation's first black president scarcely expresses an interest in the poor and the downtrodden.

    There would, of course, be a political price to pay for such prominent empathy: I can almost hear the strident tones of the pious right, the so-called "Christian" conservatives, screeching about welfare queens and tax-and-spend liberals. But perhaps it's time for the president to render unto Ceasar, so to speak.

    What would Jesus do, looking down upon the social, economic, and human carnage routinely advanced by the greedy, selfish, holier-than-thou among us? He would weep, of course.

    What should bring a tear to our collective eye is not only the ever-widening income gap in this country, but also the apparently disappearing "boundless hearts" among us. As President Obama enters his third year in office, I remain hopeful that he can inspire a new generation of Sarge Shrivers, and a new politics of genuine cooperation and leadership from all corners. I'm not giving in; and I'm not giving up.

    Thanks, Ramona, for reminding me why.

    Linda Tilsen,
    Jackson, MO

  4. I'm not really doing much blogging at all any longer, Ramona. I left TPM well before the end. Gave up on Dagblog. I very occasionally update my own blogspot site "" but it's not remotely a political blog. (Go have a look if you like - most of it will probably seem a bit...alien, it's largely production-related.) AMike's "TPMaholics" is moribund, and frankly, I just don't find it that satisfying any longer.

    I come here, well, because I like your voice. And sometimes I feel like I have something to add, and I do what I can.

    So, thanks. Drop by my place if you like. There's some video and some stills there, and very occasionally a bit of opinion on something.

  5. Linda, welcome. I'm so glad you found me! No giving up or giving in here, either. Your comments are right on. I've never quite understood why our Dem leaders think all liberal thought should be shoved in the closet, only to be brought out in tiny quantities or watered down so as to be almost unrecognizable. Liberal thought is what built this country. Both George McGovern and Sargent Shriver are examples of the kind of people I would call courageous. They were good men who lived up to their convictions. The country grew better because of men like them.

    Alan, I have been over to your fine website and enjoyed it very much. I think what you do there is fascinating, and I've learned so much about that end of the business. I guess I was really talking about a place where you get more political. You have a real talent for getting at the real issues, and, while I respect your need to stay away from it, I can't help but feel your voice is one of those we so sorely need right now.

  6. Ramona - I took your advice. Go over to TPM-aholics:

  7. I remember your post a year ago! Still holds true.

    What frustrates me when discussing politics with both the left and the right is that so many people seem to think that a candidate or politician has to believe every single thing the citizen wants them to believe, and vote every single time the way their constituent wants them to vote.

    It's not that black and white, and never has been. I appreciate a candidate's basic ideology (almost always Democrat), but I understand that there will be things that they push that I don't agree with, and votes that they cast that piss me off. For example, I haven't always been happy with one of my Senators, Republican Richard Lugar, mostly because of some of his social issue votes. However, the man has incredible foreign policy experience and credentials, and crossed the aisle to vote for passage of the START treaty as well as the DREAM act.

    And the result? The teabaggers are focusing on him to defeat him in 2012. They want to throw away decades of valuable foreign policy experience because Lugar dared to vote with the Democrats on a couple of issues. It's insanity.

    I'm not happy with our President on some things, no. But overall, I am pleased with the major accomplishments he's managed, and I'm pleased with the general direction he wants to take us.

    I also remind myself of the alternative: Senator John McCrankypants as President? Palin as VP? [shudder]

  8. Beth! I'm so glad to see you here again. And your comments are spot on, as usual. I went to Nutwood Junction (Everybody, click on it over on my blogroll.) and I'm immersed in your posts. I'm going to come over and comment on some of them. (I've been away too long). And I want to know the story behind the great post you wrote after the name-calling. See you soon.


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