Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

As a progressive Democrat who strongly supports a two-state solution in the Middle East and generally leans toward the Palestinian point of view, I would be fine with leaving the issue of the capital out of the platform. And as a Humanist, I don’t go out of my way to push for references to God.

By Ed McManus

Ed Mcmanus


He has done some amazing things in three and a half years:  Rescued the country from economic catastrophe, won passage of the historic health care act, got us out of Iraq, stood up for women and for gays.  Most importantly, Barack Obama is a man of integrity–a person we can be very proud of as our President.

But, alas, we continue to get caught up in petty issues.  We allow the media–the 24-hour news cycle–to suck us into picking him apart.  They salivate when they find something controversial to dwell on, and we stare at the Tube and let them distract us from what needs to be our goal:  Defeating a candidate and a party that are all wrong, and re-electing the President.

The latest kerfuffle came this week.  Somehow, the Democratic Party platform, as drafted by the platform committee, neglected to deal with the issue of what city should be the capital of Israel, and the word “God” did not appear anywhere in the document.  Reportedly, the President himself, when he found out about it, directed that Jerusalem and God both get back in.

The 2008 platform included a line stating that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.”  Of course, the Palestinians believe Jerusalem should be their capital if and when Palestine ever becomes a separate state.  But American politicians of both parties do their utmost to woo the Jewish vote, so they are usually eager to take a pro-Israeli stand.  Given the heavy Jewish population in swing state Florida, the issue has even more significance.  So that language has been restored.

The platform has an extensive section on faith:  “People of faith and religious organizations do amazing work in communities across this country and the world, etc. etc.”  But somehow the portion about the government’s role in helping people reach their “God-given potential” got dropped.  So now it’s back.

As a progressive Democrat who strongly supports a two-state solution in the Middle East and generally leans toward the Palestinian point of view, I would be fine with leaving the issue of the capital out of the platform.  And as a Humanist, I don’t go out of my way to push for references to God.

But this is politics, folks.  If Obama and his people, who are a lot more skilled than I am at political strategy, think including Jerusalem and God in the platform will help them, who am I to question it?

Some progressives were disappointed that the President did not take stronger stands during his first term on issues that he had campaigned on–did not stand up to the House Republicans.  I, myself, wondered at times about positions he took, or didn’t take.  But then I reminded myself that people like Axelrod and Emanuel are a lot smarter than I am–at least, that’s my opinion.

Politics involves compromise.  When I look back two decades ago to when I was a member of a local school board, I wish I had been more open to compromising with my fellow board members–I think I could have accomplished a lot more.

Politics requires compromise.  I would never advocate that a politician toss away his ideals and values in a major way to win votes, as Mr. Romney has repeatedly done.  But a politician in a close election needs to worry about the Independent vote and not become too carried away with pleasing his base.  That is just the hard reality of politics.

As we approach November, we progressives need to put all our efforts into defeating Romney and re-electing President Obama.  He is not perfect–no politician is–but I think he’s fantastic, and the country sorely needs four more years of him in the White House.

Ed McManus is a Wilmette, IL, attorney and a former Chicago Tribune editor/reporter.

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2 thoughts on “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize”

  1. I have to agree you Ed on this one…. The problem I had with the vote, was a managerial one… why the heck did they get into the silly predicament of taking a voice vote… on the good side, it appears the Dems mounted a good defense… if the platform is contrary to the leader of the party (President Obama) then that leader is going to request it be changed to something he can support; that is what Obama did

    While Romney states without specificity that he does not support some ideas in his party’s platform … ie. does he or doesn’t he support the personhood amendment which would prohibit abortion under ALL circumstance? The man remaind definitively indefinitive adding to his aura of opacity.

  2. By Nancy Kaufmann

    What I’d like to see here is less preaching to the choir and more civil debate from both sides. There’s a vast sea of conservative opinion out there, and, whether we agree with it or not, we need to understand it. Labeling and ridiculing get us nowhere.

    Uncomfortable as it often is, the right wing radio talk shows provide me a sobering glimpse into the heads of citizens about to vote for Romney and this year’s crop of Republican congressional candidates. Michael Medved, et all, are the ones they’re listening to and quite often their only source of information. The blog might take a look at the world from their perspective.

    Putting down the ignorance, duplicity, and contradictions of the right can be little more than a feel-good. For us liberals the tea-party gang and the religious right are easy targets. As we are for them, let us not forget.

    One unsettling example of the political divide has to do with the question of ethnicity which lurks throughout the election campaign. Perceptions have been fired both by seeing immigrants with jobs and by direct suffering from outsourcing. A great number of Americans are genuinely thrown by the notion that this country has a rapidly changing demography. You and I may see this development as enriching the country; others feel the rug is being pulled out from under them. Until this reality is squarely addressed, the my-town-is-just-a-microcosm-of-America crowd may just dig their trenches deeper.

    In this sense I share Obama’s conviction that we’ll do well to focus on what unites us rather than on what divides us. Is this just Pollyanna stuff? Or should we “come out of our corner fighting”, as was the talk after 2010? Would this blog be willing take on more discussion and less “oh-have-you-heard-this-one”?

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