Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

07 Jul 2004, 10:49 a.m.

"I'm tired of being Bob Dole's straight man."

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2004 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Clinton gave the inaugural Dole Lecture at the University of Kansas six weeks back. Lots of jokes (Clinton and Dole: vaudeville waiting to happen) and also many thoughtful passages.

Now, here's my take on where we are. I don't ask you to agree with me, but if you don't, ask yourself what you think. When our country was founded, the founding fathers said they pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor to an eternal mission. What was it? To form a more perfect union. Now, there are two or three ideas that are important there. I'll just mention two of them. One is the idea of union. The only reason you unite is because you need somebody else, right? The only purpose for having a union is that you can do more with somebody else than you can do all by yourself or with just your crowd. The second and equally important thing, which accounts for a lot of the fights I've had in my political life is our framers were essentially both deeply religious and deeply influenced by the scientific revolution, and the rationalism of the 18th century. They did not say form a perfect union. They said form a more perfect union. What does that mean? That means we will never be perfect, because there will always be problems as long as humans occupy the earth and because nobody is smart enough to have the whole truth. Now, you may not agree with that. You may believe some people do have the whole truth and therefore they have a right to impose that truth on everybody else. But that's not what the framers believed. They didn't say we're going to form a perfect union. They said our kids will be able to have a union more perfect than ours, and our grandchildren more perfect again and their grandchildren more perfect again and we will never achieve perfection. And so we set up this government that had both enough power to do what people needed to do to have a union and enough protection from power to guarantee that the government could never become the primary force in our lives, that people could pursue their private lives, their personal lives, build their families, say what was on their mind, worship God as they please or if they didn't please. That's the way it was set up.