Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Keystone State

On the eve of battle, at least according to antipodean timekeeping, I find myself nervously waiting for history to be made. If America fails now, so much hope will be lost and the world will continue its slide into disintegrative darkness. With an Obama victory, all the work will still remain to be done yet the forces of global polarization will finally be dampened, the world will again see that there is more to America than reckless unilaterism, illegal renditions and oil-drilling climate deniers.

Driving along the Susquehanna riverbed in May, I figured that this could well be where it all would be decided. As the Clinton strategist James Carville once said about Pennsylvania: “you got Philadelphia on one end, Pittsburg on the other end, and Alabama in the middle”. And right then I was driving through that evangelic countryside, a land of ethnic animosity wrapped up in intangible everyday courtesy. To be in America reminds you of how fragile the foundations of democracy are, how the ignorance of LIVs ("low information voters") is only exceeded by our arrogance, and how difficult it is to build ontological bridges, both for me and for Joe Sixpack.

I escape to an encouraging book by Robert Pinsky, Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry. And in the end, I am back with Whitman:

“A promise to California,
Also to the great Pastoral Plains, and for Oregon:
Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel toward
you, to remain”

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