September's theme so far appears to be a yearning for a nice, quiet, civil politics. James Poulos has a post up at the Confabulum celebrating just the kind of politically engaged citizen I love to meet—and aim to be, however unsuccessfully—the courageously unfinished participant:
"As far as I’m concerned, the courage involved in practicing politics — especially in a democratic regime — is less a matter of heroically battling your argumentative opponents in the public arena, and more one of responsibly but really risking your own reputation and credibility in the honorable pursuit of a truer, more just, and better public conversation. A key portion of that responsible risk — perhaps the most key — involves presenting yourself and your arguments as they are — incomplete; often times, radically so. Rather than conjuring up symbols that serve as rhetorical illusions — phony images of totality, comprehensiveness, and complete consistency — the courageous citizen in a democracy discloses his or her arguments, and the relevant portions of the selves that present them, as unfinished, and perhaps unfinishable, works."
It's worth skipping over to the post that inspired Poulos to write his; Ta-Nehisi Coates runs a very good blog.
I saw Bill Bradley give a stump speech for Obama this afternoon, and he did a very good job. There really is an art to that sort of thing: stringing together just the right balance of anecdotes, generalizations, and proposals after walking cold into a room of people you've never met before. (Although the standing ovation upon his entrance, along with the Young Democrats everywhere, probably tipped him off that it was a friendly crowd.) I know I couldn't do it.