Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: What John Adams can teach us for the 2008 election

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What John Adams can teach us for the 2008 election

David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning book "John Adams" has been on my long list of "books to read" for quite awhile now. Luckily for all of us, award-winning Executive Producer Tom Hanks has turned the book into a mini-series for HBO.

McCullough's book was written from the reams of correspondence between Abigail and John during the many years of separation while John was with the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. (As McCullough says in an interview, if you lined up all the microfilm containing all of their correspondence, it would stretch for 5 miles.) As a result, we have a very detailed look at how this country was built from two of the builders as well as a future President. (It is pretty well-accepted that John Adams would never have been successful without Abigail's influence.)

What has struck me the most so far are the use of the same words we are hearing in this year's presidential race. Some of these words have been sarcastically scoffed-at by politicians and media alike. "Inspiration," "duty," "vision," "sacrifice," "humility" are all words this country was founded on by a group of delegates and statesmen from 13 colonies. These words were all these men had to guide them because, as Adams pointed out, how many times in history does the opportunity to create a new form of government occur? As Benjamin Franklin declares, "It is no small thing to build a new world, gentlemen."

We see the importance of inspiration when John Adams and Benjamin Franklin discuss the natural leadership abilities of George Washington...his ability to inspire the men if he were to be General of the Continental Army in spite of the fact he'd never done such a thing before. In another scene, John Adams - himself a gifted orator and writer - humbly describes his shortcomings to Thomas Jefferson in deference to Jeffersons visionary prose.

These themes resonate as Adams leads these men from their attempts to placate the Crown out of a realistic and paralyzing fear of the unknown to an idealistic vision of what this country could become by moving forward to independence.

Today all signs, whether economic, social, spiritual or political are pointing this country towards serious transformation if we are to survive as Americans. In "John Adams," when one of the delegates suggests that the people must tell them that indenpendence is what they want before the Congress move in that direction, Adams disagrees by saying that the people "are waiting for us to lead them." No matter how trite and "naive" some people have tried to paint it, the reality is that our current problems-turned-crises require a leader with vision to guide us in the direction we need to go. It will require inspiration to convince this country to take the steps necessary to achieve long-term solutions to problems like the economy, health-care, out-of-control debt and debt ownership by foreign nations, Iraq and repairing the U.S.'s severely damaged credibility overseas, etc... It will require sacrifice by many for the greater good of all and a leader who is unafraid stand by that. It will require a leader who doesn't confuse "duty" with "entitlement" or "humility" with "humiliation."

I hope people support the candidate they believe can fill these shoes. I know I am.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


i've enjoyed 1776 and "a teamn of rivals". will have to wait for the hbo series to be released on dvd.

-note, the Starr/coffey fiasco has not truly run its course. starr, it appears, is only as good as his word.

it is interesting that everyone is held accountable, but starr makes a "joke" about committing a crime (when will a defense attorney run that as a theme?). Seems that coffey, a highly experienced attorney, should have ripped his phone from his ear. now we have to look at them both with a jaundiced eye...

it is terrible what happened to the monument. protest is one thing....

3/20/2008 12:55 PM  
Blogger clark said...

i had a fun time today and yesterday plugging a few replies into this daily kos string about don young's prospects in '08. i'm surprised i'm so negative on parnell, benson, jake, et al. just seen the same thing happen too many times now! i wish munger or celtic or somebody would create a basic primer of alaska politics, so the people on the national side will be more informed, and quit deciding it's going to be a piece of cake to defeat any of our delegation.

3/22/2008 5:29 PM  
Blogger clark said...

ack... that may have been bad linkage there...
try this one:

3/22/2008 5:35 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

The basic primer of Alaska Politics is actually a good idea - perhaps when I have a couple of projects off the table I'd be interested in helping.

It would probably have to be a group effort.

3/24/2008 1:04 PM  

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