I choose to be wary of those that fight fights that are either un-winnable or ill-defined. They always seem to start of with the best of intentions and they never seem to end. Things that don't end, that don't have a logical conclusion, are generally trouble. Take the war in Iraq for example, we freed a troubled nation from a murdering tyrant, but what then? Now we are wading through a quagmire if ever there was one. Look at the 'war on drugs' no real goals there but we have miles of legislation every year, billions of dollars in funding, rampant and wild increases in violent crime, but no real progress in reducing the use and abuse of drugs. What about the 'war on poverty'? How's poverty doing? William Ayers and the Weather Underground declared war on Capitalism; Capitalism seems to be doing alright, just ask Bill who is about to re-release his book in the wake of his new found fame. He's working on another book too. Seems he's not so anti-capitalism after all. I wonder how the families of those cops and security guards he helped kill feel about his change of heart.
We talk a lot about big ideas in this country. Though some say not enough. We seem to be awash with crises, financial crises, terrorism crises, fiscal spending crises here in California. Every where you look there's a crisis. Each and every one calling for immediate action. But are we solving anything? We had a terrorism seven years ago, are we any less scared now? Or are we just less likely to fly?
The thing about ill-defined fights is that you never really know when they are over. If they never end then you never know when to stop funding them. It's a long held belief of those in the government that everything will be alright (unlike how it is now) if only we give them enough money. But what happens to a movement when all the original goals, stated or otherwise, have been met? Seems to me the movement would declare victory and disband. When was the last time you saw that happen? Is it wrong of me to wonder how the same people who stood next to Martin Luther King Jr., who helped in the fight to establish voting rights and to de-segregate the schools, are still working the same jobs they were then? Why is the Reverend Jesse Jackson still fighting the civil rights movement? He won didn't he? We have a black president, what could the civil rights movement possible have left to do? Of course Rainbow Push brings in millions of dollars annually it would be hard to fire all those people. I guess they'll have to find something to do.
That's the thing about political movements, when you drastically swell the number of people working for what looks like temporary gigs. Pretty soon they want job security. Job security is a tough thing in fights that can be won.
Power is an interesting thing. Get a group of people together to fight for something they think is really important and when they get it, they'll want to know what's next. The more they win, the more they think whatever the leadership tells them must be good. The danger is in the baby steps. First your candidate, he's an ok guy. Next this bill, or that bill. Next comes the revocation of one or two little rights. No big deal, we trust in the movement. At this point you are wondering if I'm wearing a tin-foil hat. But it happens, more often than not. People throughout history have engaged in all kinds of vile things when brought to them a little bit at a time. Specifically when a movement, bigger than those leading it, brought them there. Movements have a way taking on a life of their own. Game shows are like this. Many of the most popular game-shows today ask contestants to risk huge sums of money, they would never have bet, for just one more step up the ladder of success. If you can win $10,000, why not risk it for $100,000. It all looks good from inside the movement.
Just keep in mind that in the days ahead clear goals, clear boundaries, and clear stated intentions are the keys to success in any project, business, personal pursuit, or government action. Ill-defined fights are far more dangerous than anything this or that government has in mind. Ill-defined fights will stick around and be run by the enemies of us all. This president for better or worse will be gone in no more than eight years, what happens to his policies depends entirely on who is left to play with the tools he puts in place. So far 'Hope' and 'Change' are the plan. It's time to tie that down to specifics.