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America isn’t easy: balancing competing moral claims in advanced citizenship societies

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America isn’t easy

Building and sustaining a diverse community is not easy.

What should we celebrate?

Celebrate: to perform (a sacrament or ceremony) publicly and with appropriate rites; to honor by solemn ceremonies and refraining from ordinary business; to hold up or play for public notice.

What should we tolerate?

Tolerate: to endure or resist the action of without grave or lasting injury; to suffer to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction.

What should we not tolerate?

Freedom of Speech: speech as a celebratory, tolerable, or non-tolerable moral action

The right to free speech celebrates the toleration of alternative views and the expression of those views.

“Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write” – Voltaire (potential misattribution)

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Kanye West may Save Obama’s Presidency

(With apologies to Taylor Swift)

Kanye West may save Obama’s presidency. When President Obama said “He’s a jackass.”, the President confirmed a simple truth about civic virtue that transcended most political boundaries.

Importantly, he did so authentically. His statement was not the product of intense focus group distillation.

The comment leaked (hmm) and it met with significant approval. Unsurprisingly, given President Obama’s historic fall from favorability grace, the video was “released” by CNN.

In the video, the President is charming just being himself. His charm is but a bonus, however, because the People’s approval was based on his bare words.

Mr. West’s act could save Obama’s presidency, if “President Obama” recognizes the simple truth of why his comment worked. The people who voted for him did so because he promised to speak the truth and he promised to act on the truth. His statement both spoke and performatively acted on the truth of Mr. West’s behavior.  The People approved.

It’s remarkable that Obama has not realized the power of being honest, given that the promise of honesty carried him to power. Heck, he even disarmed the faux race angle of the incident, which delivers on the post-racial promise (that others made for him).

So, if President Obama realizes that being honest and keeping his promises (general as they were) will give him the best chance of having a second term, then perhaps he’ll adopt doing so as an election strategy. If he does, then his presidency will be historically important because he will be an example of how people benefit by doing the right thing.

UPDATE: Many of you think my modest proposal is not too swift. That is not a bad outcome.

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