Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama and Karl Rove

First, congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama. Throughout his entire campaign, Sen. Obama treated his country, his opponent, his supporters, and all of us with the utmost respect. He treated us like we are smart. He talked up to us, not down. He carried himself with extraordinary dignity, and treated us as if we share that same inherent spirit of goodness. He is a true role model.

Second, for all the criticism Karl Rove has received the past few years -- and it is a lot, much of it deserved -- one truth is being neglected: Karl Rove's lasting legacy will be the extension of the democratic process to previously excluded groups. Mr. Rove knew that American politics had become about mobilizing the 'base' -- bringing people who don't usually vote out to the polls for your candidate. Sen. Obama won the race because he won this turn-out battle; indeed, he was always best situated to win this kind of battle. Mr. Rove's positive effect on American democracy should not be ignored simply because one doesn't like the Bush administration. For Mr. Rove not only brought us Bush. His bring-out-the-base paradigm shifted the political grounds so that Sen. Obama's ascendancy was possible in the first place.

That said, it is true that, as a result of this sea-change election, the GOP needs to make major changes. And I will use this blog to think through what Republicans can do to come back from this historic backlash against Republican incompetency.

But the new fact is that elections are won by attracting more and more people to politics. And no matter who they vote for and no matter why they vote for them, this new fact is a good one for American democracy. To be sure, it gave us the spectacular faulure of the Bush Presidency. But it also gave us Obama's victory. And hopefully it will give us even better in the future.

So thank you, Barack Obama and Karl Rove. Two good Americans.

America has got a lot of work to do. The more Americans who contribute to these tasks, the better.

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