The Outsider

The allure of the Outsider is strong to we who feel there is something wrong with our country, which is nearly all of us. The promise to cut through the red tape of bureaucracy, to resist the influence of lobbyists, to defy political correctness, to say it like it is, and to act decisively according to what is necessary rather than what is conventional — it seems so simple what must be done and how to do it; all it would take is will power and courage.

But we do not live in a simple country. Our world has a past. It is complicated by history, overdetermined by a complex of factors and forces imbuing every place, every person, every problem with the inner conflicts of all existence leading up to this moment and propelling us into the future. Only on a solid basis of ignorance does the allure of a clean slate, of starting anew, of redemption by an Outsider seem possible. The task is considered too bold and challenging for a mere politician, requiring the vision and daring of a new hero — but that perspective is the illusion of revolution, the impossibility of utopia.  To quit and start over from the beginning is the lazy way out and is rarely successful. We need to do the hard, deliberative work of reforming the system from within the system, which unrelentingly requires humility and education to understand the forces in play and how they interact in a historical dynamic, pragmatism and diligence to redirect those forces into a more harmonious equilibrium.

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