An old friend sent me a link to this YouTube video. It's getting passed around to snickers about its earnest optimism and era specificity, I'm sure. But the thing is, I still feel this way.
It's the question that the 2012 elections will test, the question that the Tea Party was formed to answer in the negative. Can our government be more competent and honest? Can it do good?
I know that the structures of bureaucracy and power are inherently corrupting; I agree that they need to be restrained by a vigorous defense of individual liberty. But I also know that there are things only government can do -- ensure the effective flow of interstate and international commerce, protect the public health, invest in infrastructure for the benefit of all rather than the few.
It's striking that the two presidents who campaigned most squarely on that promise, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, were both victimized by economic crises not of their own making that caused the public to question their effectiveness. There's another name that belongs on this list of "saying yes," and that's Bill Clinton, one of the most successful presidents with regard to centrist governing and effective budget management.
Our cynicism about government is based on the failure not of the institution, but of some of the people within it. I still believe that the right people with the right determination can do good and do right. Like Jimmy, I say yes.