Exchange 4: Possibility

Dear Julie,

Thank you for your response and for posing such timely questions. You ask: “Do you think we can enthusiastically back campaigns, not primarily because we are enamored with the candidate, but explicitly for their movement-building potential?” I can’t help but answer yes. This past summer, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. But this remarkable and rapid progress in the area of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights happened without the benefit of a visible and charismatic spokesperson for the cause. President Obama only became a supporter of same-sex marriage in 2012 — and we do not know what motivated his change. But we do know that same-sex marriage was achieved through a grassroots movement and not by the charisma and leadership of an individual.

What’s remarkable about these past eight years is that we’ve seen both the power of an individual’s charisma and leadership and the strength of a passionate movement. President Obama inspired us to send him to the White House but it was the people who inspired government to correct an injustice. At the risk of sounding trite, I think this is precisely what “possibility” means in the public sphere: that we can’t know where change will come from. As the field for the Republican presidential nomination reaches the midteens, and as I read yet another story of Hillary Clinton withholding emails from her years as a public servant, I can’t help but feel somewhat discouraged. But I will always vote, I will continue to donate to causes I believe in, and I will take action when I feel compelled to do so because the existence of “possibility” in our politics preserves an unknown and unquantifiable potential for progress. We are living in a time of unparalleled connectedness, which time and again has served to expedite and magnify the changes we pursue. If “hope” is air, then “possibility” is our lifeblood. Warmly, Jon

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Exchange 4: Possibility

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