The story goes that Mao Zedong (a man whom I loathe deeply, but admit was good at the occasional bon mot) was once asked about the historic implications of the French Revolution. He responded "It's too soon to tell."
In other words, a wise man should remember that past events, no matter how distant, will always be viewed from the lens of the present.
What are the historical ramifications of Rick Warren at the inauguration? In this case, we've taken to viewing the events of the future through the lens of the present, and pretending it is the past. It's preposterous, meaningless, and indicative of a larger problem that has nothing to do with the French Revolution, Mao, or Rick Warren.
Today is the day I lost my Trusted User status, I noticed. Other than the month my first spent in the NICU, I think it's the first time I haven't been a TU since they invented TUs. Unlike that time, it wasn't events, but choice, that has kept me from participating in the debates here.
The debates here since the election have been largely silly and very meaningless. Rick Warren is no more indicative about how Obama's administration is going to deal with the very real and pressing needs of the LGBT community than the participation of the Marine Corps marching band. Daily Kos is not going to pick Obama's cabinet. Obama is. We elected him to do that, you can't go second-guessing the guy you elected before he's even in office.
What it boils down to is this: The election of Obama has put the netroots in a real crisis. Since the inception of Daily Kos, we have been an oppositional movement. And the progress that the Democratic party made over the past few elections was a result of many of the philosophies behind the netroots, that began with the Dean campaign.
I see the flailing over Rick Warren as the latest incarnation of this identity crisis. As an oppositional force, the netroots did a good job of making mountains out of what were often, retrospectively, molehills of the Bush regime. Certainly, there was a lot of bad shit that happened, and we kept those stories alive, torture, civil liberties violations, Iraq, Katrina, etc. But we found the little stories and made them big, and we found the little guys and gals who were doing the right thing, and we promoted them.
And now, instead of doing some serious introspective thought about how the netroots can play the role in the repair of a nation and a world destroyed by eight years of neglect, contempt, and aggression, here we are bitching about the secretary of agriculture and who gets to pray at the inauguration.
Instead of thoughtful policy positions, suggestions for areas of reform, ideas about how to save the government money in some areas so that we can spend it in other areas to get the economy on its feet, we're pretending that Barack Obama has suddenly turned into Bush III.
This is not to say that we should begin behaving as the nutroots did during their run in power. Mindless sycophancy and lockstep behavior is worse than knee-jerk reactions and manufactured (or even genuine) hysteria over day-to-day governance. Clearly, we are in a better position than the right wing. We are now in power, and in a place to learn from their mistakes.
And I'm not going to say that gay people, and friends of gay people (which I would include myself) shouldn't be pissed about Rick Warren playing a role on January 20th. I think it's stupid, it may turn out to be brilliant, which is what I often found myself thinking during the election. Hell, if you ask me, I think it's stupid to have an invocation at all. Why not just have someone read the closing to Lincoln's Second Inaugural instead of a prayer?
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
Isn't that what we should all be doing? Fixing this broke down heap that Bush left us? Trying to do what we believe is right, but recognizing that we may be wrong, and, in case we are wrong, simply acting with malice towards none and charity towards all?
I am fully aware of the meta quality of this diary, the fact that I could be on Daily Kos writing serious stuff about East Asia, which is what I know the most about, I'm ranting about the behavior of the netroots. But frankly, I think it is serious time for meditation about how we can best help Barack Obama get this country back on its feet.
We do have a seat at the table, if we can convince ourselves to behave like an informed participant. Rick Warren sucks, of course. And it's too bad that he's giving a prayer, or whatever, at the inauguration.
What is the significance of Rick Warren giving a prayer?
Maybe it's that we realize it's just Rick Warren doing what he always does, so whatever. We need to do what we do best - look for the little things that we can fix as a country, giving them a spotlight, and making intelligent suggestions. Maybe, instead of talking about Rick Warren, we could be offering suggestions for Obama about how to make the country better and more equal for our LGBT friends and family. There are lots of little policy molehills that need to be made into mountains. Rick Warren can stay a molehill, for all I care.
I don't want us to lose this powerful tool we have because we refuse to take it seriously.