In yesterday’s New York Times, Thomas Friedman writes:
In October 2010, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, famously told The National Journal, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” And that’s how he and his party acted.
Well, Mitch, how’s that working out for you?
McConnell saw his job description as making Obama fail. He said explicitly that he didn’t want to pass any legislation because Obama can claim credit.
Gee, if I recall, the job description for a legislator is to actually make legislation. McConnell has tipped so far over into what he’s against, he’s lost sight of what he’s for. As a leader, he should have been working to make positive change, not using time and tax payers money to wage a vendetta.
America’s vote last night means different things to different people. To me it meant, among other things, that the majority of people, not everyone, but at least half, is tired of the politics of being against.
It’s easy to see this playing out on a national stage. But we all do it. For some reason it’s easier to be against than it is to stand for something. Sure, there are moments to stand up against things, but unless you’re also selling something positive, just being an “anti” monger doesn’t work.
We have to decide whether we want a “negative freedom,” the freedom from constraint, from the abuse of power, from any infringement on our activities. Or, do e want a “positive freedom,” the freedom to realize ourselves, to make a thriving community, to innovate and create. Being against is the negative freedom we’re used to, and it leads to a democracy of individual rights, based on the belief that freedom arises out of pitting individual against individual, individual against government, and minority against majority.
Being against something is seductive, because it makes us feel powerful, but actually, it’s just a semblance of power. We define ourselves in relation to the other, but not in terms of our innermost potential.
While freedom from has been the dominant mode of democracy to-date, freedom to is a lesser known, not-yet-realized form of democracy. It is based on the understanding that liberty is much more than absence of constraint. Real liberty is the inner capacity to self-actualize and create, not just to resist.