Last week I experienced the thrill and experience that is the sport of Rugby. Well, the thrill and experience that comes from watching the sport of rugby. Last Saturday, I went to the USA Eagles v New Zealand All Blacks game in Chicago. Packed into a sold out stadium, with 61,499 other screaming fans, I enjoyed my first professional rugby match. This was unlike any display of athleticism I had ever seen. Rugby has the fast-paced and continual play that is exhibited in soccer, with the full contact that one would expect during an American football game. It only took one game because I am now hooked on rugby. Read more
On September 12, 1962, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University setting the United States of America’s Space Race goals for the 1960s.
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
I wish we didn’t live in the cynical world we live in. I’m perfectly willing to admit, as my wife reminds me often, that I can be too optimistic for my own good at times. Matthew McConaughey’s character is similarly ridiculed as too optimistic and too much of a dreamer in Christopher Nolan’s latest epic cinematic adventure (and first since the conclusion of his Dark Knight trilogy). But the world where he farms and raises his children is Nolan’s vision of what could result if our cynical world devolves to its natural conclusion.
The votes are cast, most of them have been tallied, and the American experiment lives to see another day. To paraphrase one of the only lines that was any good from Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, “Every two years we drive to a fire station and overthrow the government and there isn’t a policeman in the street.” It’s a beautiful thing and so rare in all of human history. Our structure and our system cannot be lauded enough. For all its many imperfections, it may just be the closest to perfect we can get for self-rule.
Before what many expected to be a good night for Republicans turned into a great night for Republicans, Peggy Noonan shared insight into how both winners and losers could be gracious as we wrap up another election season.
For those who think Mr. Obama has faced unusual levels of rhetoric, consider this question from a reporter to Mr. Bush:
“Thank you, Mr. President. With all due respect, Nancy Pelosi has called you incompetent, a liar, the emperor with no clothes and, as recently as yesterday, dangerous. How will you work with someone who has such little respect for your leadership and who is third in line to the presidency?”
This is how Mr. Bush replied. “I’ve been around politics a long time. I understand when campaigns end and I know when governing begins. And I’m going to work with people of both parties. You know, look, people say unfortunate things at times. But if you hold grudges in this line of work, you’re never going to get anything done. And my intention is to get some things done, and soon—we’re start visiting with her Friday with the idea of coming together.”
That is the sound of political graciousness. It would be nice to hear it from Mr. Obama on Wednesday.
As for the Republicans, if they have as good a Tuesday night as they increasingly expect, it would be nice if they were gracious and big-minded, and a real relief if they didn’t look smug and get that curled smile that says “We got it back, baby, and Harry Reid will soon be out of that pretty office.” Wouldn’t it be nice if they were happy but modest, and made it clear they’re aware of the fix we’re in? “It is not about me and it’s not, my hardworking friends, about you. It’s about this thing we were given called America. It needs our help. So we are happy tonight, but it’s work in the morning, and the kind of work that is the most important, saving our country.”
Or, more pointedly: “I know what this is. It’s the base giving the party one last chance. They are telling us we better do something. That’s the meaning I take. and I mean to come through.”
That is what the GOP should be thinking this morning. Honestly, that is what every elected official of every party should be thinking this morning. That’s what the losing candidates should be thinking as they consider next steps. And, more importantly than all of them, it is what ordinary Americans, you and me, should be thinking. It’s not about our political parties, although that’s important. It’s not about who won and lost, although I believe that is also vitally important.
It’s not about us. It’s about this thing we were given called America. It’s about the responsibilities we have to each other and to the world, as we see historic levels of evil on the move, raping, beheading, and enslaving. It’s about truly caring for the most vulnerable members of our society, both those who are born and those who are unborn.
This means we will have to forego the easy answers that do more about making ourselves feel good and self-righteous than actually empowering those who feel hopeless. It will mean pragmatism and compromise, but not without standing up for principles and truth. It will mean knock down, drag out debates, but hopefully a focus on the ones that truly matter and insisting upon dignity for all, even those we feel argue for the least dignified positions.
If you read all of this reflection as more empty rhetoric about hope and change, then you misread me. The time for talking and wishing away our country’s problems is over. There is real work to do. I hope the 2014 election results show our President that it’s time to get down to business. I pray that the President and the new GOP congressional leadership focus on getting real work down to create economic growth and opportunity for all Americans of every socioeconomic class, race, and community.
Christopher Nolan’s latest masterpiece, Interstellar, is ultimately about hope in the midst of hopelessness. I hope our new elected officials and every single American now realize that hope does not descend from D.C., but must be nourished in our families, neighborhoods, and communities.
One of my best friends from college, Clint Rosenblatt, is getting married on Saturday. It’s the latest in a series of walks-down-the-aisles those closest to me have taken over the last few years. Those of you in your mid-to-late-twenties, especially in the early commitment-heavy Southern states, undoubtedly know the feeling of constant marital ceremony bombardment that occurs at this age. Read more
We’re less than a week before the 2014 midterm elections, in which the GOP is trying its best to increase its majority in the House of Representatives, gain a majority in the Senate, and continue its strong leadership in state governments in every region of our nation.
But the news cycle knows there are bigger stories on the horizon, because in the aftermath of next Tuesday, presidential candidates move from informal speculation to formal declarations and moves towards official candidacies to become the 45th President of the United States.
For the Democratic Party, everyone seems to officially be “Ready for Hillary”, the name of the independent SuperPAC forming grassroots networks for another Hillary run at The White House. As Bill and Hillary tour the nation stumping for congressional candidates, other Democrats prepare and scurry in the shadows, wondering if the Clinton Machine will be well-oiled to make history or whether the Clinton Machine will prove itself too clunky once again just like its collapse in 2008, opening a window for Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Martin O’Malley, or a Castro brother from Texas. Movement progressives seem to teeter between wanting Hillary to lock it up early and wanting Elizabeth Warren to compete with Hillary in case she stumbles or to at least pull Hillary to the left.
For the Republican Party, there is no frontrunner. As parties out of power traditionally do, factions jockey for the future of the party. As Rand Paul attempts to take libertarianism mainstream while also reaching out to establishment Republicans in addition to college students, African Americans, and other demographics drastically lacking in our party, other potential 2016 hopefuls like Scott Walker are merely trying to win tough reelection bids. Chris Christie is attempting to shake the shadow of BridgeGate and show why he was an early frontrunner for so long with his real talk and strong executive leadership.
Then there’s Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, and so many others in D.C., in the states, and outside politics altogether. But there is one name that could shake up the 2016 GOP primary more than any other. It’s a name that’s as familiar as it is controversial. That name is Jeb Bush. And after hearing Jeb Bush talk about the future of America for over an hour last night at Vanderbilt University, I’m more confident than ever before that he is the Republican Party, conservatism, and America’s best hope in 2016.
Friday afternoon, Wise Guise founding members Joseph and Palmer Williams became parents. As with all substantial news in the social media era, the revelation of this birth came from a collage in my Instagram feed of two clearly exhausted young parents cradling a small baby in their arms. Read more