A privilege to be alive by mattsteinglass
August 29, 2008, 1:05 pm
Filed under: President

I took Theda Skocpol’s class “Revolutions” 20 years ago at Harvard. Should anyone suspect her of being a weepy bleeding-heart liberal, she was the hard-ass who taught me that the fundamental attribute of a state is the monopoly on legitimate violence. She also taught me that ideology is never a sufficient motivator for successfully overthrowing a government; people act on their interests and class or ethnic-religious allegiances, not on wispy things like charisma or ideas.

This is how Theda Skocpol is talking about this election:

It is time for all of us — professional experts and commentators, too — to cease self-importance (listen up, Carville) or distanced and pallid commentary (that means you Harold Ford and Mark Shields) and join the fight of our lives. This election matters like only a few others in the history of the United States. Our nation will either move forward, or fall down very far — think of what it will mean in and about America if we cannot grasp the bright potential Obama’s candidacy embodies!

You might decide that this signifies how partisanship can lead even the most distanced and flinty hardheaded observers to lose their intellectual rigor. To me it signifies the opposite — the incredible passion that this campaign has inspired even in people who normally take a very cold-eyed view of politics. And I don’t think that passion is misplaced. To say it’s misplaced in this campaign is to say that passion just has no place in politics, because if you don’t think this campaign has earned it, then really, what are you asking for?


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